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A Dream Deferred No More

I want to begin by thanking every single person who helped us pack, who gave us thoughtful cards & gifts, and who supported us these past few months as we transitioned from the U.S to Canada. There is no way we could have done any of this by ourselves.

For the first time in my life, I am not undocumented. I made it to a country that values me and wants to include me in their society. When we spoke to a lawyer in Canada for advice last year she said "Don't worry, we want you here. You won't feel unwelcomed anymore", and she was right. Every single Canadian we have spoken to has been so helpful, kind, and welcoming.

The stress of packing and moving and dealing with import forms has not given me much time to process what it means to no longer be undocumented in the U.S. Our Express Entry paperwork (COPR) allowed us to cross the border, import all our stuff with no import taxes, open a bank account and get the Canadian version of a Social Security Number, all within two days. As a Dreamer, I've been waiting for a pathway to U.S citizenship or even just a green card, for all of my 28 years but as a Canadian I now have Permanent Residency and can apply for citizenship in 3 years. It's a night and day the comparison between how the U.S treats immigrants and how Canada welcomes them.

I hope that fellow Dreamers realize that the U.S will never stop using us as pawns and take any opportunity to leave and go somewhere where you will be appreciated. In the U.S, I paid taxes during the 11 years I was eligible to work plus the $500 fee to renew my DACA status every two years. I paid into Social Security even though I probably won't qualify to benefit from it. Contrary to popular belief we DO NOT get free money, free healthcare or free laptops. These are all things people told me in the last few months are being given to the migrants crossing the border. Why think that is relevant to me, I'm not sure. In that same vein though, when I talk to people about why I'm leaving, they think it's ridiculous that I can't get citizenship. The sentiment should end right there. Instead, they continue with "but those migrants are getting x, y, z". Those immigrants seeking asylum, risking their lives and often losing them, are doing something incredibly brave and they do not deserve to be demonized by people who were born here and never had to do anything to earn their citizenship. What people fail to realize when they say I'm "one of the good ones" is that if I had been born recently, I would be one of those kids being brought across the border. Those kids could easily grow up to be "one of the good ones" if you just give them a chance.

As much as I tried to live a normal life as a DREAMer by traveling in the U.S, working and investing, there are things I could not do and fears, even irrational ones, that affected me everyday. There was no guarantee that DACA would stick around (hence September 5th, 2017) and without a guaranteed way to work, there was no way we could invest in a home. I also could not leave the country and reenter whenever I wanted and it was also not recommended to travel even within 100 miles of either land border because it was part of border patrol's range (see videos of greyhound buses in New York State getting boarded and passengers being checked for papers). Would you want to feel like a guest in the country you've lived in for decades? I couldn't vote. I couldn't serve on a jury. I couldn't donate to political campaigns. If I made any mistakes with the law, I could lose my DACA status and lose everything because of a speeding ticket, a missed turned signal or just a cop having a bad day. At any given moment, a power hungry judge in some state I've never been to, could decide my only lifeline in this country was "unlawful" and end it. Feeling unwanted by society for your entire adult life, takes a toll on you mentally. Even if I did everything right, good jobs, 4.0 GPA, plenty of money to support myself, volunteering, none of it mattered. I was still undocumented with no way to become a full member of the club. There are about 600,000 other DREAMers still renewing their permits under the current 2012 guidelines but an estimated 2.3 million of us would have a pathway to citizenship under the 2023 DREAM Act. The DREAM Act of 2023 was introduced in February of 2023 and absolutely nothing has been done to move it forward. As always, U.S politicians will spend millions of dollars and countless hours on the most ridiculous hearings for their own political gains, but a simple bill that would instantly help over two million people? Who has got time for that?!

With all that spewed out, I can confidently say that Canada has treated us with such efficiency and kindness in the time leading up to our move and even now as we get settled in. I know so many people keep billing our move as "a big new adventure" and while it is, please let it be noted that it was an unfortunate necessity and while we are making the most of it, at the end of the day what I did was self deport myself from the only home I've ever known. Does that suck? Yes. Can you as a US citizen do anything to prevent more of us from leaving? Maybe. Please vote with your conscience for politicians who advocate for common sense reforms and for the love of God, do not vote for Donald Trump AGAIN.

Now begins the arduous task of relearning my entire civics education in a new country but something tells me that life won't be nearly as frustrating here.


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