Viviana Arciniega

Las Cruces, New Mexico

1. How has DACA helped you?

Prior to DACA, my dad had been the only financial provider for my family. Because we were undocumented, my mom, my sister and I never worked. My dad was involved in a car accident where he broke both of his legs. He couldn’t walk for almost a year plus a another year of physical therapy. He was told that he wouldn’t be able to work normally or for long hours as he did before. During those years we struggled to pay rent, electricity, gas and sometimes we didn't have food to feed the family. My mom would go to food dispensaries near us so we could at least eat beans and rice. I knew I had to help my family, I was the oldest child and I needed a job to help us. I started working at an oniom shed in the summers to help my family out. My sister joined me on my second season and that's when we were able to save up for a DACA permit. DACA has not only given me the opportunity to help my family get through those difficult times where we didn't have anything to eat, but to go to school and pursue a career in nursing. I am so proud of how far I've come in my education and to set the example for my younger brothers. I am one class away from going into the nursing program. I feel very happy and privileged that DACA has given my sister and I the opportunity to work and help our family, to pay for our school and to better ourselves by creating a better future for our family not only economically but through education.

2. What is the Real Dream for you?

To me the real dream is to be treated equally here in America. This has been my home since I was a baby. I've learned the language through school, I've said the pledge of allegiance and I know it by heart. I know the history of the U.S. The American culture is in my roots. I contribute to this land every day. America is my home and New Mexico is forever in my heart. The real dream is to be able to visit our families back in Mexico but be able to come back home, to New Mexico. This is my home I don't know anything else but New Mexico. The real dream is to be able to go to the store without being discriminated or being scared of being deported. We need a protection but we can’t deport our parents in order to get it. Families need to stay together.

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?

It is inhumane that Congress would want to militarize our border. Our families, friends and communities are already scared enough. We don’t need more Border Patrol or ICE agents in our border. Recently, families living in the border don’t want take their children to school or even go to the store just for the fear of being deported. These families have done no wrong so why should they be targeted?  What wrong have they done if all they did was to migrate and work under harsh conditions to give their children a better future.  

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

One of the difficulties we as Dreamers and immigrant families face here in the border is the fear of being deported or separated by Border Patrol and ICE agents. The situation we are living here in the border is devastating. Families are scared of taking their children to school. Parents are afraid of going to work and not coming back home to their children because of the fear that has been planted in our border communities due to these agents. Another difficulty we face is going out of town or out of state. We live in an area where we have to pass through checkpoints to get to another city in the state. These checkpoints are full of Border Patrol agents so it is impossible to get to another city if you or your family don’t have any proof or residency or if you are not an American citizen. If you pass through these checkpoints and you don’t fall in any of the categories, it is most likely that you will be deported. My family has never been out of Las Cruces, New Mexico just for the reason of not wanting to be deported or separated from our families. El Paso, Texas is 45 minutes away from where we live and we have avoided going there because of the same reasons and not to mention El Paso is also full of Border Patrol. They don’t just guard the wall Trump wants to increase but they roam the streets as if they were the police.

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

Dreamers are very important to this country. We contribute by paying our taxes, by doing community work and many other things. We work and go to school. We are good people, that want nothing but help our own families. We want to have a better future.


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


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