For Sheridan Aguirre, Texas is the only home he’s ever known.
Brought to the U.S. from Mexico as a child, Aguirre is the eldest of six children and the only undocumented immigrant among his siblings. Growing up, Aguirre says he never gave a thought to his legal status, but recalls living with the constant fear that his mother would be deported.
Now, however, Aguirre, who is LGBTQ, is one of hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers” — young people brought to the U.S. as children, who, under the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, have been able to work, obtain driver’s licenses and support their families — whose futures are in jeopardy. There are an estimated 75,000 LGBTQ Dreamers like Aguirre.
A coalition of 10 Republican state attorneys general and one governor are seeking to have the Trump administration dismantle the program. If DACA is rescinded, many Dreamers, including Aguirre, will be vulnerable to deportation and left with an unclear future.
HRC sat down with Aguirre to talk about his journey, DACA and community engagement.
How has DACA impacted your life?
Learning that I was the only undocumented sibling in my family was hard to process. I notice I did not have the same opportunities that my brothers and sisters had. But when I was able to apply and be part of this program my life completely changed; I was able to pursue a my own goals in life, get a job and feel more secure. My mother was proud to see that I enjoyed having a normal life and advocating for young immigrants like me at United We Dream.
What does DACA mean for young people like you in the country?
While attending college, I became aware that this program helped people from different countries, races, ethnicities and communities. Having DACA enables Dreamers to live without fear in all the states and cities we call home. Thanks to the program, we can work, go to college and drive like anyone else, but more importantly, we are able to help and support our families, and feel part of society.
What actions are expected from the current administration?
We know we are a critical moment, but we are hopeful. Despite having ten attorneys generals and a governor that have threatened to sue the Trump administration if it does not eliminate the program by September 5, we have 20 officials, including [California] Attorney General Xavier Becerra, supporting us and fighting to defend DACA. I hope that the administration makes a fair decision and chooses to protect the lives of young people, who are productive members of society that contribute to the economy and growth of this country.
What would you say to Dreamers and DACA supporters?
As immigrants we all have different journeys. This is our home. We must recognize the human component of all of this. We are here stay and fight to achieve our dreams. All we ask is to live a normal life, where we can prosper and succeed beyond the barriers of legal status, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and any other issues that divides us as a country. We must do what is right and move forward together. Rescinding DACA is not the way to do so.
HRC is proud to join the National Day of Action for DACA and Immigrant Youth, an unprecedented mobilization effort to support DACA recipients and defend the program that benefits nearly a million young immigrants. HRC will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ immigrants, Muslims, refugees, people of color and all the vulnerable communities. To learn more visit DefendDACA.com.
Post submitted by Milagros Chirinos, HRC Bilingual Media Manager-Spanish
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