My name is Amy Yu, and my family immigrated to the United States in 2001, because my mother hoped that my brother, sister and I would receive better higher educational opportunities in the American education system. She also wanted to raise us in an environment free of any negative influences from my father's status as a well-known corrupt and runaway Chinese tycoon.
After settling in California, we lived in an old worn-out apartment in the tiny city of Monterey Park, where my mother worked several jobs to support our family of four. She did everything from stitching garments and sewing collars and buttons to giving massages and facial treatments. My aunt and uncle, who worked over 13 hours a day at a local restaurant, helped out whenever they could. These three people made sure that my brother, sister and I always had food on the table, books for school and a bed to sleep in at night.
I learned that I was undocumented in high school when I was applying for college and was told that I did not have a Social Security number. There was no one to turn to for help, and I was too afraid to ask anyone else. But to my surprise and relief, I discovered the existence of AB540—which allows certain undocumented students to pay in-state tuition in California; later, the California Dream Act was signed into law and it allowed me to receive state financial aid. Both laws opened a pathway to college for me. And then Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals happened.
Although DACA gives me temporary protection from deportation and employment authorization, it also excludes the very people who have contributed to the person I am today. What does it mean when, through deferred action, I have a chance to work for higher than minimum wage, but the person who raised me will constantly face wage exploitation and theft? What does it mean when the very qualities that label me a "Dreamer" stem from my mother, who is conversely deemed as undeserving and undesired? Because of the sacrifices my mom had to make, I can attend a four-year university, drive a car, open a bank account or even have dreams of achievements beyond a college diploma. DACA has created many opportunities for me, but my mom made it possible to reach those opportunities.
That is why, even though I am grateful for my DACA status, I believe we have to demand an inclusive deferred action that protects all immigrant communities.