These four young people are dreamers, literally and figuratively. They are enrolled in President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which makes it possible for 750,000 people to contribute fully to our society by driving and working legally. But now under the new administration, all of that is at risk. DACA participants have been detained in custody for no reason.
Worried after the election, Zaira Flores bravely decided to channel her fears into action. Now 25, she's lived in Oregon since she was 6. She graduated from PSU with a degree in economics. Under the DACA program, she has to reapply every 2 years and pay $495 (and $60 for a new driver's license every 2 years) or risk being deported. It's a scary time, especially not knowing what will happen with DACA.
I got the fortune to meet Zaira on Sunday when she visited our church. Zaira and her friends decided to write letters to our Oregon congresspeople to ask them to advocate for the DACA program. They mailed 200 letters in purple envelopes (the color of hope) earlier this year and recently delivered letters in person to Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Kurt Schrader, who said:
"Every one of these stories matters and needs to be shared. Recent policies from the new administration will only serve to tear families apart (and) destroy American businesses. Oregon isn't going to turn its back on our immigrant community, and neither will I."This grassroots group (featured on the front page of the Oregonian) is asking for supporters to get involved by writing their own letters. Email your letter to email@example.com, and they will put your letter in a purple envelope and deliver them to our representatives.
|With Senator Ron Wyden|
"For a long time, I felt like I was alone. I thought people didn't care or didn't know. But the response we're getting is so reassuring. We are scared. We're putting ourselves at risk, publicly saying we have DACA. But people are letting us know we are not alone. Our community cares for us."I'm writing my purple letter today!
Read more of my "I Was a Stranger" entries here.