I am not alone in my experience of being an undocumented immigrant. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has provided me with a means of studying and working temporarily without fear of deportation. But there is much more that I cannot do that my friends with U.S. citizenship can do. I can’t vote and can’t access many services and loans. I have minimal worker protections and few rights. More than anything, I want to be able to build a permanent life here in America. Oddly, I consider myself fortunate because I have friends and co-workers who I can rely on. There are many aspiring citizens that are in a worse situation than me and there is a possibility they could be deported and separated from their loved ones at any second.
That is why I am standing up for myself and my community—so that all 11 million aspiring citizens will be treated as equals. I stand in solidarity with the Korean Resource Center (KRC) where I serve as an Immigrant Rights Program Organizer, and its partner organizations, the Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC) and the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC), all of which have been advocating for undocumented students and families since 1998. We work with Korean American youth, who just like me, to speak out on issues that affect us. As a community organizer, I come encounter immigrants waiting to be reunited with their loved ones overseas. For example, Grandma Kim, who recently received her citizenship, will have to wait than 10 years for her son to rejoin her in America. That is too long a wait. If we work together, we can ensure that all immigrants are treated fairly and never have face such long separations from their loved ones.
Kevin Lee is a DACA recipient and UCLA graduate.
This post is the first blog in a series of blogs about the immigration experiences of individual Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians. NAKASEC is an NCAPA member organization.