The Deferred Action Waiver Fund (otherwise known as “DACAF”) is a fund set up to award undocumented activists with a scholarship to cover the fee associated with applying for Deferred Action. We recognize that many of the activists we work with on a daily basis do not have the financial means to apply for Deferred Action and so this fund will try to meet the needs of these activists. To apply send in a completed application found here.
Diane Martell – Bessemer, Alabama
The house my mother could afford back in Mexico was a room with holes on the roof, that when it rained the few things that we owned would get soaked. In our neighborhood, things would get so hard, there were times when we only ate chile with lemon on a tortilla and had very little clothing. In 2005 when I was barely 11, my mother decided to come to the United States. I have not only heard how people suffer when they migrate to the United States; I have lived through it as I walked for hours and crossed a cold river.
As many children who migrate to this country, I did not know a single word of English, but I stayed in school in order to fulfill my parent’s dreams. Although learning English was very difficult for me, it became my ultimate goal. In school, the teachers were somewhat hesitate to work with a student who couldn’t understand them, but I showed them with my rapid improvement in English. At this point in my life, I believed that I was moving fast towards achieving the American Dream my parents and myself, had risked our lives to achieve. Later on I would find out things weren’t as easy as that.
I began to realized that living without proper immigration status, brought many obstacles including being unable to drive safely without fear of being stopped by racist police, or having ICE knock on your door harassing your family. I felt overwhelmed with the thought of how much fear has changed my life and the life of my family and friends.These unjust policies my immigrant community lives in, will continue if we don’t fight back. As I approached graduation, those realities became even clearer. I began to hear stories of students who graduated before me who were discouraged by the counselors and were told that going to college as an undocumented student was very hard due to the high costs.
For a while I gave up on the hopes of going on to college; but now with Deferred Action, I can make half of those dreams a reality. I know that there is still a bill in congress that would allow undocumented youth, like me, a pathway to citizenship called the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. I will continue to fight.
About a year ago this time, I participated in a civil disobedience in Montgomery against the unjust anti-immigrant policies in Alabama. As I sat blocking the street with 10 other undocumented individuals, I saw my parents chatting “Undocumented and Unafraid” and that gave me the strength to continue because I knew I had their love and support. I knew that I was not alone and that my community would stand by me. That day changed my life forever, and I learned more than ever to value my obligation to fight for not only my dreams, but for the dream of my parents and my community.