My name is Liliana. My family and I came to this country for a better future when I was only two years old.
I have been fighting for immigrants' rights since I was 14 through Hope Community Center, a Florida organization that helps serve, support, and protect immigrant families. Through that work, I have learned how important it is to get involved, not only for myself but for others who fear speaking for themselves.
Millions of immigrants like myself have been living for years on a rollercoaster in regards to our status in this country. Legislation that has both supported and attacked our lives in the U.S. has caused us to constantly live in survival mode.
In July 2021, a federal judge in Texas found DACA unlawful. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal policy that protects from deportation immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16.
Prior to this decision, my community and I were worried for months because we knew the outcome could be unfavorable. As a result, the judge’s decision meant no new DACA applicants were going to be accepted. I couldn’t help thinking about the way I was going to have to break the news to my community about this. I decided to call them personally to explain what this meant for them instead of having them find out through news outlets, which could potentially create more panic. I knew people who had already provided their biometrics--fingerprints and photos--for their initial applications. They were so close yet so far. Delays by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service in processing applications are also to blame for those who are being left out.
Hispanic culture thrives in Florida, and so should its people. We need to do something, not just for DACA recipients--known as Dreamers--but for each parent who goes to work every day to provide a better life and future for their kids. It’s been too long since we have had any wins in the political arena. In my home state of Florida, we have had to deal with SB168, an anti-immigrant law that uses racial profiling to tear families apart, and perpetuates fear in our communities. But that's not the only setback our community is facing in Florida. Many people are in detention centers, being mistreated, and the pandemic has only made their situations more dangerous.
The time is now to protect and support our immigrant community. I urge everyone to support a path to citizenship for our hard-working immigrants. This month, we should honor Hispanic heritage and culture by honoring its people with action. Here are some action steps you can take today:
- Support Local Organizations That Work Towards Immigrant Justice
- Join our Floridians for Immigrant Justice campaign
- Email Glades Commissioners and demand they #ShutDownGlades
- Put an end to the ICE Detention Machine
We need a solution for the community and an end to unjust immigration laws in Florida and across the United States. Make today the day you join the movement to make Florida a place where all people and cultures can thrive.