DACA means the world to me. It is much more than a political debate of what to do with the program. It is about people who are trying to better themselves and achieve the American dream. I find it hard to believe that in the summer of 2010, I was in Wise, North Carolina, waking up at 5 in the morning, and now I am in my second year of law school.
If not for DACA, I would not have made it this far. I have gained valuable experiences from the various jobs I’ve worked. If I was not covered under DACA, I wouldn’t have been able to do them. I hope to graduate in 2019, and take the bar that summer. In Florida, it is possible to become an attorney as a DACA recipient. I pray that when the time comes for me to sit down for the bar exam, DACA is still in place so that I can be able to practice law. I chose to become an attorney because of all of the injustices I witnessed growing up in various stages of my life. I want to bring justice to those who deserve it. I hope that the people who are against DACA realize that we are not all criminals. For example, my story is unique, like every dreamer in America.
I am originally from Eastado de Mexico, Mexico. I was less than a year old when my parents immigrated to America. My parents left their friends, family and homeland in search of a better life. My family arrived in Fresno, California in the early 1990s. My parents picked grapes there for a while until moving to Quincy, Florida, where they picked tomatoes. After the tomato season was over, my parents moved to Immokalee, Florida, to pick oranges. My life thereafter consisted of migrating across America following the crop cycle. I remember growing up in the van that my dad owned. We were always on the move. I remember the harsh conditions we lived in—in the migrant camps. Sometimes, the camps had no running water, no beds and no restrooms.
We stopped migrating as a family in 2003. I remember this clearly because it was the first time I finished a whole year of school. I was in the fifth grade and I was graduating from elementary school. I hardly spoke any English and I had difficulties adjusting to middle school. People looked at me weird, I had a deep Spanish accent. My middle school career went by quickly. I started high school in 2007. It was in high school when I started realizing what it meant to be an undocumented person in America.
That was when I understood what my parents meant when they said I couldn’t do certain things: like get a driver license because I was undocumented.
During my high school career, I always heard people speak about how “illegals” couldn’t go to college, how they had to go back to their countries. I never believed any of that. I always knew that if I worked hard, America would reward my hard work and talent. After graduating from high school in 2011, I started college at a private university. At the time it was difficult for students like me to attend college. Public schools in Florida charged out of state tuition for undocumented students. I recall—in 2012—deferred action for childhood arrivals was signed. I felt ecstatic. I would be able to be a part of society.
Conventional wisdom leads me to believe that if any person was stuck in my shoes, grew up poor, and lived in the greatest country in the world, they would have done the same as me: try to better myself. I hope that people who are against DACA realize that in taking DACA away, my dreams along with the dreams of 800,000 will be torn apart.
Carlos Segovia is a second-year law student in Florida. The article was distributed by American Forum, a nonprofit clearinghouse for editorial opinion.