Today is the Mermaid Promenade and Aqua Faire in San Marcos, a celebration of the city's rivers, art, and unique history. I am thinking of mermaids and why we find them so fascinating. They are beings trapped between two worlds, the water and the land. We either imagine mermaids eager to leave their fins behind and walk on the hard ground or we imagine ourselves learning to breathe water and adapting to a new underwater home.
We don't need myths to find stories like this. Many of our community members are also stuck between two worlds, Americans in every sense but the legal one. Our attorney general announced this month that he is rolling back DACA, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, a program that allows young people who arrived in the United States as minors to get temporary documentation. This allows them to work, to obtain drivers licenses, and protects them from deportation. There are almost 700,000 young people currently enrolled in the DACA program, and if Congress doesn't act, they'll be forced out of public life again.
Last week, dozens of students attended a silent protest for DACA at Texas State. We sat on the steps outside the library and held signs that said "Educated, Undocumented, and Unafraid". The idea was to remind the passersby that no one looks undocumented; anyone you know could be in jeopardy. I was heartened to see such a large turnout, people impacted by immigration policy and people out there to support their neighbors, but one student in particular has stuck with me. He arrived a little later, and when we offered him a sign, he said no. He said that he was educated and undocumented, but that he was afraid and didn't want to hold a sign saying otherwise. This particular student is about to graduate from the university with a professional degree that he now doesn't know if he'll be able to use. He deserves so much better.
This is all a symptom of a larger problem. Our federal government has been kicking the can down the road on immigration reform for over 30 years. Our system encourages immigrants to come here to work, in fact relies on their labor, but then forces them to live in the shadows and divides their families. Texas, like many other states, is enabling this broken system. We waste of our tax dollars enforcing these broken immigration laws, which is neither just not our obligation. We build additional barriers to undocumented immigrants participating in our communities without fear. It's time for the federal government take responsibility for the legal mess they've created, and it's time for Texas to enact policies that protect and serve everyone in our communities.
I will fight to repeal Senate Bill 4, the anti-immigrant "Show Me Your Papers" law, create a path for undocumented immigrants get drivers licenses, and work to provide better access to preventative healthcare.
So that's what I'll be thinking about today at the Mermaid Parade and the Aquafaire, how we can help our own community members who live between two worlds.
P.S. An immigrant-led group in San Marcos is fundraising to help eligible DACA recipients renew their status before October 5th. You can help here!