I have been in the U.S. since I was seven years old and have been fighting for immigration reform for almost a decade. I know I deserve a path to citizenship, and so do my family members and the young people I work with every day.
Right now, many in Congress are discussing the possibility of “parole,” a temporary permit for undocumented people. We need to create a real pathway to citizenship, without an expiration date, that will grant freedom to our siblings to travel, work, move and stay without the fear of being separated from their loved ones.
I have had Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) since 2012. My experiences living with DACA are how I know that parole is not enough. I know the heartache of temporary protection. I live with the fear that my DACA renewal won’t be processed on-time, which would mean losing my job. I know how changes in administrations and Congress can upend my life in the blink of an eye. Despite having grown up in the U.S., I can’t make long-term plans here because my future is not guaranteed: I only have every two years.
It is time for Congress and the White House to deliver on their promises: it is time to deliver a path to citizenship to millions of undocumented people across the country.
As DACA, parole has the same problem. Immigrants who become eligible will be able to renew only once, then after September 2031, those who applied would become undocumented again. After that, the future is uncertain. We don’t know what Congress or the White House will look like in 2031. The time is now to give our people the stability they deserve and that was promised to us.
Immigrant New Yorkers, including undocumented youth, have been calling on Senator Schumer to steer the Democratic caucus to deliver citizenship. We have rallied, marched, and slept outside his home. On Halloween we carved and lit up pumpkins that spelled out “CITIZENSHIP NOW” to demand a pathway to citizenship. It was a beautiful reflection of our two worlds.
Many of our members come from Latin America where we celebrate the Day of the Dead. Our pumpkins commemorated our ancestors, including those left behind when we migrated to the U.S. and those whom we couldn’t hug in their last hours because our harsh immigration laws didn’t allow us to travel. And yet carving pumpkins was also uniquely American – it is the culture in which young people like me have been raised. We grew up here.
P.S Check out the graphics below made in partnership with UndocuBlack, Nakasec, and CHIRLA, detailing the difference between Parole (temporary permits) and Registry (green cards with a pathway to citizenship).