Dreamers Can’t Be Broken


Mrs. Penina Noonan

Some RLHS grads came back for a panel discussion about the changes in DACA. The students encourage others to keep up with their dreams of higher education, despite any policy changes.

Ana Hernandez, Staff Writer

Whether it was President Donald Trump’s promise to  build a wall along the Mexican border, or his tendency to make inappropriate Tweets, many people had their worries when he was inaugurated on Nov. 8.  Many struggled to see the good in our new president.

It seemed like some people’s worst fears were realized when Sept. 5 the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, was removed. DACA protected nearly 800,000 young adult immigrants from deportation that allowed them to be in the U.S. legally since 2012. Without DACA, many students wonder if they will be able to pursue the American Dream and fear being deported from the only country they have considered home. After all, the people protected through DACA grew up in the U.S., and most of them didn’t know they were immigrants until they were teens.

Despite what many believe, DACA was not a path to citizenship. Every two years, DACA recipients had to reapply and pay a $1,000 fee . Besides paying this much, being a DACA recipient does not entitle people to Medicaid, Medicare, or social security. During his presidency, Barack Obama worked to get policy approved that would allow DACA recipients to pursue a college education and be eligible for financial aid. However, the Trump administration is making it harder and harder to for students to take advantage of the changes Obama put into place.

At Round Lake High School, counselor Mrs. Penina Noonan, started the We Dream Club about three-and-a-half years ago. The We Dream Club helps undocumented students realize their goals of attending college, whether by giving them support to get through classes, or providing them with legal information about various U.S. immigration policies that could affect them. On Sept. 21,  RLHS, graduates came back for a panel discussion regarding the changes with DACA. The panel was hosted by the We Dream Club and panel members and the audience were able to discuss their fears, share their hopes, and look toward the future.

Jocelyne Jaime, Doriana Rivera, Michelle Hernandez, and Val Flores are all DACA representatives that participated in the panel. Each of the grads had a personal experience with DACA and explained how the act provided them with opportunities. For instance, Val Flores was able to receive work authorization. “I was able to get a job and that [helped me reach my goals],” Flores said. Other students were unable to work throughout high school because many of them were involved in after school activities and sports, but they all agreed it was nice to know that they could easily find employment options if they needed to. Michelle Hernandez acknowledged that finding a job as a teenager is often hard enough, and so a work authorization “gave me the sense that I could actually work without [having to deal with] all these other obstacles.”

While many people in the audience and the panel members were upset with the changes, Noonan pointed out that there is one positive. “The one positive thing that is happening with all of this is that people are talking about it,” she said. “People are talking about the Dreamers and saying they need to do something for them, we need to help them because before, the question was, ‘Who even are these people?’”

Jocelyne Jaime agreed that she felt comfort in knowing that Dreamers are supported by the majority of Americans, but it’s also a little scary to know how uncertain the future is.  “These students have been here their entire lives, but how do [other citizens] help them? [Dreamers want an education] since they want to be Americans, but what could be done to help them?” Jaime also worried that more and more students will avoid pursuing higher education or asking for support for fear of having their undocumented status discovered. “They definitely feel more scared about reaching out,” she said.  “It was hard before when we had the protection, but I would recommend them to know that they aren’t alone.” Flores added,“No one is alone. There is always someone there, reach out for help, especially [our] counselors.”

The RLHS We Dream Club keeps on going with their head up high and expects to accomplish even more this year, even if DACA is no longer around for help.

Other extracurriculars are getting involved in shining the light on hardships faced by undocumented students. RLHS’s Ghostlight Theatre performed SIN PAPErLESs Sept. 29. Students performed first-hand accounts of the challenges our immigrant student population faces every day.  It was performed in Spanish and English and all the money that was earned will be used for scholarships for any undocumented students.

“You can be whatever you want to be, just know that it will take a lot more work but it’s worth it in the end,” Jaime said.  Doriana Rivera recited a quote she likes a lot, “Let your dream be bigger than your fear.” It keeps her going, she said, and reminds her that everyone should keep on going with their dream, no matter the obstacles. Jaime, Rivera, Hernandez, and Flores all urged other students to unite, stay motivated, and most of all, to keep pursuing their dreams of higher education.