WASHINGTON, D.C., United States, Thurs. Feb. 1, 2018– On Tuesday, President of the United States Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address in Washington. His address focused on national issues — a particular one being the state of the country’s security and immigration.
An issue which has saturated the international media is the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which shielded from deportation undocumented immigrants called “Dreamers,” who entered the United States as children. In September, Trump had announced that the program would be halted.
To urge the President to find a solution for the undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, Democratic representatives invited several Dreamers to be their guests at the event on Tuesday.
One such guest was Danae Joseph, 23, who entered the United States illegally as a child. In an interview with Popsugar news.com, Joseph revealed that at age 7 she entered California, unaccompanied. She said that she was sent to live with her maternal grandmother.
She said, “I was born in Belize, in Central America. I immigrated to this country at the age of 7 years old, and I actually did so without my mother, father, or siblings. As the eldest child, my parents made the decision to send me to the United States and I was raised by my maternal grandmother… It’s been a good 16 years since I’ve been back home; as a result, it’s been 16 years since I’ve seen any of them in person.”
She told Popsugarnews.com that her experience as a Dreamer under the Trump administration was one of uncertainty and concern.
“Chaotic would be an understatement, the understatement of the century, maybe. It’s been a time of uncertainty; though I wouldn’t say a time of fear, honestly, because when you know that you’re living your truth, when you know that you’re living unapologetically, and you’re showcasing your experiences and the realities that come with it . . . I have no fear in that sense,” she said.
She added, “…there is an overall concern for my community and the future viability of our own freedoms in this country. If a program like DACA is completely eradicated, many of us would become subject to detention, deportation, and separation from our own families — there’s so much at stake. And as a result, the advocacy just cannot stop. Because our future as we know it, as well as our current existence, is contingent on being able to continue advocating for this cause.”
When asked what advice she would give to other Dreamers, she said, “Remain true to yourself. Remain true to your own personal experiences, and if you can, if you’re comfortable enough, showcase your stories as much as possible. There is no one who can tell our stories in the way that we can.”
In her interview, Joseph explained that she wished that people would start seeing Dreamers as human beings.
“I wish that the conversation would center around people, as opposed to economics. Oftentimes we like to say, ‘immigrants pay taxes, thus the reason that they should remain in this country’ — which is a fact, immigrants do contribute taxes and fees and payments to the Department of Homeland Security — but we are people first. We are people who contribute to our society, whether that be locally, state-wide or nationally; beyond that, we have family, we have people that we are responsible for through the actions and the work that we continue to do. So I wish that we would start to have a conversation beyond the numbers, and start looking at the people whose real lives and families are going to be impacted by this decision either way that it goes,” she said.
When asked if she could share a message with President Trump, what would it be, she said, “I would ask the President to advocate for the collective of the immigrant community, and not utilize the 800,000 DACA recipients as pawns against the remainder of the immigrant community, those who risk the chance of being subject to criminalization with any policies that have been proposed by Trump and his administration.”
Joseph is a member of the UndocuBlack Network, which is an advocacy group focused on providing support to undocumented and formerly undocumented black immigrants.