Steven Arteaga Rodriguez recently had the chance of a lifetime: he stepped into the Oval Office and shook hands with the president. His recollection of that moment dripped with excitement and happiness.
Steven was brought to the United States when he was only four months old, so he has only ever known this country as his home. He arrived with his mom, his brother, and his sister. As a child, he grew up watching his mother work hard every day yet still struggle to make ends meet for her children. It frustrated Steven because as he grew older he could not help, since no one would hire a youth without documentation.
Today Steven is 19 years old, lives in Houston, and volunteers for Mi Familia Vota. He is grateful for executive actions such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has allowed him to stay in the country where he grew up and work to provide for his family. He no longer has to watch his mother struggle to support their family from the sidelines.
After he met with President Obama, Steven said, “Thanks to the two executive actions he has taken all that changed, because now I could pretty much work and pay taxes. I’m not afraid anymore to come out of the shadows.”
DACA opened doors for Steven, as it enabled him to search for work without fear of deportation for him or his family. He stresses the importance of applying for deferred action and wishes other eligible immigrants would also apply.
“If we don’t apply, we don’t take this opportunity, we wouldn’t be where we are now. We’ve gotten this far, and it wouldn’t be fair for all those DREAMers that fought if, you know, not everybody applied.”
There are many DREAMers similar to Steven who are full of aspirations and want to become contributing residents of this great nation. President Obama has taken the first step to include these individuals into our country with open arms. DACA has already helped more than 680,000 young people on the road to achieving their dreams.
The next step is for Congress to join in these efforts by affirming the hopes of these youth. The U.S. is the only home they have known, and they aim to be a part of all our country has to offer. Congress should be working to make DREAMers feel at home, not unraveling the president’s administrative relief efforts.