Areli Zarate

Losing the fear of deportation 

Areli ZarateI was undocumented for 12 years of my life. In those 12 years me puse las pilas and I focused on my education. Education was the reason my family left everything behind in Mexico to come to the United States. I graduated from high school and continued my education at the University of Texas in Austin. At that time, I knew that my options were very limited because I was still undocumented. Nevertheless, I decided to major in education, hoping that one day I would be able to teach.

Everything changed in 2012. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allowed me the opportunity to come out of the shadows of my immigration status and lose the fear of deportation. I also had the opportunity to apply for a work permit, which allowed me to work in the classroom.  

DACA also grants the opportunity to apply for advance parole, a process that allows undocumented immigrants to visit their countries of origin for certain reasons and then return to the United States. In 2015, I got accepted to the DACA exchange program put together by the Latino Center for Leadership Development, and I was able to return to my country, Mexico, after 16 years. This was a very emotional experience for me and my family. I was able to hug my grandmothers again after many years. One of them passed away months after my visit. I have those memories engraved in my heart.

I am about to begin my fourth year of teaching, with a big heart filled with love and passion for my profession. I am dedicated to my students, and it’s hard to see myself doing something else. Yet, every time I have to renew my DACA, I am reminded that my status is temporary. I am currently waiting for a decision on my renewal, and I am praying to God that I will be allowed to teach for another two years until my next renewal.