A couple of years ago, the young dreamer, Osmán López, a DACA recipient “dreamer,” lived on the edge of a dilemma: the realization of his life-long dreams, and the imminence of a personal and family nightmare for him: fear of deportation during the hostile era Trump.
As this week marks the ninth anniversary of the DACA program implemented by President Barack Obama and which shielded hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth, most of them Mexican, from deportation, the same program that Trump unsuccessfully sought to derail, Osmán does not feel the same uncertainty and anxiety, but remains vigilant.
Osmán still remembers the day his phone rang one afternoon in 2012. It was a surprise call, with unexpected news.
At age 21, he found himself working at an Italian restaurant part-time, and taking classes that he could afford at a community college, usually 1 class, rarely 2 classes per semester. His undocumented status made him ineligible for financial aid. “Life felt static, with dreams that flew, but a reality that did not reach them,” he tells me.
“When DACA was implemented, little by little I was gaining momentum to run and achieve my dreams of flying. After 6 years I was able to finish college, becoming the first in my family to earn a college degree. Seeing the pride on my parents’ faces was worth the effort. DACA helped me connect the dots and lay the foundations for the future that I dreamed of for my life.”
In 2019 I met and wrote about Osmán’s story because I was impressed by his dedication, his integrity and optimism, essential qualities of his American experience:
He arrived at the age of 15 in the United States with a small suitcase full of dreams. He was brought in by his parents on a religious visa, but at some point in his new American life he lost his status. It was a rough start. Without speaking English, he struggled in school, but managed to graduate. When he wanted to enter college, he ran into an insurmountable wall of financial hindrance from being undocumented.
His father lost the job that brought them to the United States and the family had to constantly move, sometimes requesting shelter with relatives in South Florida. The economic vicissitudes caused the unthinkable: the family was forced to separate.
In 2012, DACA gave him the support to change his life. He received a well-deserved job offer in Washington, DC, at La Red Hispana, where he did his internship as an intern. Every day he works long hours as a sound engineer and producer of relevant educational and informational content aimed at the Spanish-speaking community in the United States. Osmán is my friend and partner.
“After 9 years, we are still in the fight. Waiting on the long promise of an immigration adjustment, but it is an active wait, made up of many like me. Today I am proud of having achieved what I have achieved so far, and I am vigilant of a future that is about to be written,” he tells me.
I avoided mentioning Osmán’s nationality, because the true spirit of the American experience is that your country of origin should not matter, but what you are determined to do with your life. That should be at the center of the conversation as Congress debates the future of DACA and hundreds of thousands of talented, patriotic, and dedicated dreamers like Osmán López.
For more information visit www.laredhispana.com.