Tomorrow marks the deadline for a new government spending plan. Tomorrow also could be a day of reckoning for DACA (aka Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program), as Democrats have threatened not to support the spending bill unless lawmakers can also pass legislation shielding young immigrants. Tomorrow is a scary day for Kelseyville FFA Chapter President and Dreamer, Ariana Montero Pille.
It’s a day Pille knew was coming since the Trump Administration announced their decision on Sept. 5 to overturn the program that protects immigrant youth who came to the U.S. as children from deportation. If Congress doesn’t pass a solution before the March deadline, an average of nearly 30,000 people a month for the next two years would lose their protection from deportation, according to a CNN analysis of Department of Homeland Security data.
For Pille, who’s had her sights on studying either agriculture education or agriculture business at CSU Chico next year, the DACA decision-making has left her future uncertain.
“I can graduate high school and apply to colleges. What I don’t know is what will happen if Congress doesn’t come up with a way of making DACA constitutional,” Pille said. “That’s when I see much trouble.”
Currently a senior at Kelseyville High School, Pille moved to California from Michoacan, Mexico with her mom around the age of 6 to live with her dad and to also see if the change would help a very sick Pille.
“I was constantly sick and my mom had to take me to the doctors a lot,” Pille said. “It was becoming expensive in a way for my dad to support us in Mexico and himself in California. The best solution was to have my mom and I move to California.”
Now Pille, who went through a lengthy and costly application process to renew her DACA status in August, is waiting to see what will happen.
“When I’m called a dreamer, I think of two things – that I’m not legally in this country and that I’m segregated in a way from all the other Chicano students,” Pille said. “I also think that nothing is granted for me here. Maybe one day I’ll be taken away from my home and the country that’s my home. It may never happen, but I’ll always just have that fear.”
It’s something Pille has discussed in length with her parents, who both work as farm workers in the vineyard and pear industries.
“We’ve talked about it but it’s just so hard to face the truth, that I could lose everything I know and have,” Pille said. “I don’t want problems with the law so if I was to be deported then that would be a disgrace and I would have to go to Mexico. I haven’t been there in years, so I would struggle there. As for my education I want to say yes, I would try and work in the ag industry, but things there are so much different. Only time will tell what I would do if it happens.”
In the meantime, the Dreamer says her time in FFA has been nothing, but a blessing.
“It’s like a safe haven for me because no one is looking at how much money one has or what your immigration status is,” Pille said. “They look to see what your experience has been and the similarities there are – what your projects have been and who you are as a member and a leader.”
For those in the ag industry supporting the withdrawl from DACA, Pille invites them to talk to a Dreamer, to learn about their story, share a word, and get to know them before pointing fingers.
“Many of us don’t recall living in Mexico or like myself, where I was brought so young, it’s a very distant memory. Some didn’t even know until they tried getting their permit, or were asked for their social security number,” Pille said. “I myself and many that I know of, who are in the same situation, strive for the best, want an education, and want to make a positive change to the society that we’ve grown up in and know as our own.”