Itzel Guillen

San Diego, CA

1. How has DACA helped you?

DACA has allowed me to pursue an education, career and achieve independence at just 23 years of age. With DACA I have had the opportunity to continue my education, complete a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science while working and further developing my career in the non-profit world. I have also had the opportunity to gain economic stability. With DACA I was able to purchase my first car, and now my second car. I have been able to move out of my parents home and live on my own. One of the most important and beneficial aspects of DACA was the protection from deportation. With DACA, I did not have to feel worried about driving, or walking in my neighborhood or anywhere else. I had felt a sense of protection that allowed me to travel and experience every day life without the fear from deportation.

2. What is the Real Dream for you?

The Real Dream for me would be to have the opportunity to feel like I belong to this country. I am hopeful that I will be able to to continue to live, study and work but I am also aware that this cannot be at the cost of my family’s happiness as well as my own. The Real Dream for me has to include a pathway to citizenship that is reasonable and also takes into account the time that we have already been here as contributing members of the United States. It also has to NOT criminalize my family, my parents and our communities for making a choice for a better future for their families. The Real Dream means that I will have the opportunity as well as my family to live a life that allows us to become fully integrated into the country that we have called home.

3. Why is it a bad idea for Congress to increase border militarization in exchange for the safety of your support system, family, friends and community members?  

If Congress increases border militarization in exchange for the Dream Act or any form of legislation to protect undocumented youth, this will mean that our safety and the public safety of others will inevitably suffer. There are multiple accounts of border agents using extraordinary powers and not being held accountable for their actions (beatings, wrongful detentions and even death). Adding additional agents and building walls will not help our everyday lives and instead it would create more fear in the communities that it is meant to serve.

4. What are some of the difficulties you face as a Dreamer living in the Southern Border Region?

I have had an experience in which I had a work commitment to get to in San Ysidro. I have always been careful when driving in San Ysidro because the reality is that if I make one wrong turn, I could put myself in a lane that returns me to Mexico. Now, on this particular day, I was going to make a turn into a parking lot, but because there was a lot of traffic, I was unable to make that turn and instead I was being directed to a lane that said no US re-entry. In my case, this meant that if I did not get out of that lane, I was going to have to return to Mexico because of a mistake! I was able to get out of this situation before it got any worse, however, this can happen any day to anyone and the consequences could be devastating for some a lot of us.

5. Why are Dreamers important to the fabric of this country?

Dreamers are important to the fabric of this country because we bring in a new perspective for immigrant rights. We have been raised as Americans without the documentation to prove it. However, we also have our parents to look up to for all of their hard work in ensuring that we have opportunities that they did not. The real Dreamers in this case are our parents and in my opinion, it is extremely important to have those individuals that push the next generation to become better, achieve more and demand more. 


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Southern Border Communities Coalition is a program of Alliance San Diego.


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