I stand with DACA recipients today, tomorrow and forever because I can relate to the experience of leaving a familiar country and culture behind to live in a new place because parents believed that our family would have better opportunities elsewhere.
I remember well the challenges that I experienced when I emigrated to the United States as a nine year old child. I particularly remember how difficult the initial transition was. I didn’t fit in, I spoke Caribbean English with a thick Spanish accent, I did not feel accepted or welcomed by my peers. It was a tough time in my life.
Once I felt comfortable and established however, the U.S. became my new home and I thrived in the environment. I love Panama, I continue to practice many Panamanian traditions, and I wish that I could visit more often. That said, I was educated here in the States. I have taken my right to participate in the political process since I could first vote, very seriously. I am a proud dues paying union member. I own a home, and I have owned a business here. My family is here – my family of origin, the family I have created with my wife, our Son, our daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
I realize that the DACA students may not have established families, businesses or purchased homes yet. They do, however, make a significant financial contribution to our economy by paying taxes, social security and the fees associated with reapplying to the program every two years for the past 10 years.