November 22, 2019
To The Editor:
I’d like introduce myself – I’m the proud son of a highly-educated woman who has served as both an example and inspiration to me.
Growing up, my mother achieved five associate degrees, a bachelor’s degree and is in the process of completing a master’s degree. Her achievements set a high bar at home, establishing an expectation of excellence while challenging me to dream bigger than she could as girl growing up in Bangladesh.
At the same time, every family has secrets. I was about to go to a trip to New York with my high school but was held back when my parents sat me down and told me why I couldn’t travel on a plane. It was revealed to me then that I was undocumented. I came to the hard realization that I was not an American citizen despite my mother’s accomplishments, but my own as well.
Thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation, I, and other achievers like myself, have been able to navigate the complexity of our situations that were created through no fault of our own. I am able to pursue my dreams of a college education, find meaningful employment and actively contribute to the community that helped raised me. In exchange, I am registered with the Federal Government and have maintained a clean criminal record.
However, in 2017, the DACA program is now in peril and DACA recipients like myself are left with unanswered questions about their future. The Supreme Court of the United States began hearing oral arguments on Nov. 12 regarding a push to end the program once and for all.
Despite these oral hearings, this issue is not a political issue, it is a human issue. If DACA were to be rescinded, our nation and state would be impacted in more ways than one. DACA recipients could face deportation which would mean employers would lose employees, business owners would lose customers and the economy would take a hit. In Oklahoma alone, the annual state GDP would lose $343 million from removing workers with DACA.
It’s important to remember that we are American in every way but on paper. It’s easy to point fingers and fight to hold those responsible accountable. However, this response softens once it is realized that this is simply a case of a parent doing what is best for their children. Upon deeper understanding, their hope was to provide them with the American Dream.
We are your neighbors, your coworkers and your friends. We share the same language, dreams, honor and respect for this country and its laws as you.
Only our elected leaders in Washington, D.C. can help. We encourage Sen. Lankford and other elected officials to help us find a permanent solution before it’s too late.
Tasneem Ahmad Al-Michael
University of Oklahoma Student and DACA Recipient