Ivy Teng Lei writes: I was seven years old when my family and I arrived at JFK Airport in New York City on a visitor’s visa in 1998. Our visa eventually expired and with no way of renewing our papers in the United States, we decided to stay on without documents after falling in love with this country and its promise for a better future.
“Living in the shadows” is a very accurate way of describing our way of life. We never caused trouble, never asked for more than what we were given, and were perpetually afraid to attract anyone’s attention.
People like me – who came to America as children and are currently without papers – are the reason that the Obama administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) program in 2012. Daca protected us from deportation and over 800,000 young people currently benefit from it.
When the program was first introduced, I was hesitant to apply because it meant that I would have to expose my immigration status to the government. In the application I was asked for my travel documents, where I lived in the last 10 years, my education record and fingerprints for an extensive background check.
Once I was approved, I was given temporary relief from deportation, a two-year work permit, and a nine-digit social security number that I can use to work, get health insurance and travel domestically.
It’s been 5 years since I received this protected status. Today, I worry that my worst fears will come true and the government will use the information I gave against me. The Trump administration, by all accounts, intends to escalate it’s psychological warfare against us by terminating Daca. I am deeply afraid for what that will mean for my future. [Continue reading…]