Ignacio Hernandez is a 21-year-old DREAMer who is working five jobs just to have a shot at the American Dream. But this week he learned that President Donald Trump is giving him six months to get out of the country or risk being rounded up and sent back to Mexico where his parents’ lived before bringing him to the U.S at six-years-old.
Since the news, Hernandez has been googling stories every day trying to learn the latest. He was with his family having a festive gathering before his saw his mood drop upon hearing the news, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“My sister asked me what was wrong. I don’t know how she noticed,” he told The Union-Tribune. “I didn’t know how to feel. A few months after the election, I saw what I feared.”
He’s currently in his fourth year at San Diego City College studying film with dreams of becoming a film producer, a professor, an accountant and even a U.S. senator if he can get his citizenship. He’s the president of the student government and a student trustee.
“I started thinking about dropping out of college and getting another job to save up money,” he revealed. But he hasn’t yet. Instead he’s starting to think about how his dreams might change if he is deported.
“I know if I go back, I will have the same dreams and hopes, but I will not have the possibility to reach them,” he explained.
DREAMers are stuck in a kind of legal “catch 22.” Given that they are documented, it’s known that they entered the country illegally. Entering illegally means they broke the law and are thus a “criminal,” which means they fall under any deportation rule that forces so-called “hardened criminals” from the U.S. If they apply for citizenship, they’re told that they entered illegally and thus don’t qualify.
The Union-Tribune previously explained that foreign nations have to be granted a green card or legal permanent residence status before they can even apply for citizenship. “Most unauthorized immigrants don’t qualify for green cards, and for non-citizens who are eligible for green cards, the wait can be decades long,” the report continued. It’s a main reason many consider the American immigration system broken. It’s impossible for undocumented immigrants to “get in the back of the line,” because there is no line for them.
Hernandez, like many, doesn’t qualify. He enrolled in DACA his senior year of high school and the permit expires in January. He almost dropped out of school then too, because his mother was going through a divorce and he wanted to help her. But DACA let him work and stay in school.
Assuming Trump doesn’t kill the program entirely or begin rounding up anyone on the DACA list, Hernandez has an opportunity to apply for one more DACA permit. He’s hoping that he can renew and will be in his final semesters of a bachelor’s degree once he transfers to a university.
He explained that he was once fearful of people learning of his status, but after reading about Martin Luther King, Jr., Eva Perón and Cesar Chavez he was inspired to help others facing the same DACA problems.
“I’m really confused, the same way as them,” Hernandez said. “That puts a bigger load on me. I have to be strong for myself and also for others.”
Watch the full interview with him here.