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Ending of DACA affects more than just “Dreamers”

Ending of DACA affects more than just “Dreamers”

September 20
21:22 2017

Since President Donald Trump’s announcement of his plan to terminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), about 800,000 people registered with the program are living in a new state of worry.

Although he is not one of these 800,000 people, the situation is hardly different for music education freshman Joel Ramirez. While Ramirez and his younger brother were born in the United States and are U.S. citizens, his older brother, who plays a part in earning a portion of his family’s income, was not.

“At the moment, he is a part of DACA until it expires or he gets married,” Ramirez said. “I was a little worried because if his plans for marriage don’t go through, then he needs to figure out something he should do. He’s lived here all his life. He legally works here. He has a home here.”

Not only is Ramirez worrying for his older brother, but also for his stepmother, who is another key factor in his family’s income.

“She does her best to not get on the radar,” Ramirez said. “For her and my dad, it’s always been a worry that one slip-up could mean her going back to Mexico.”

Ramirez’s stepmother is an undocumented citizen with no criminal record.

While she may not be someone registered with DACA, there is the worry that if Ramirez’s older brother were to be deported after the program’s termination, she could possibly be sent back with him.

“As my younger brother gets older, [her not getting deported] is less likely to me,” Ramirez said. “The likelihood of an officer deciding to deport her when she has a younger son depending on her is, in my mind, not that likely.”

Ramirez’s parents did not attend college, and his older brother went straight into work after graduating high school. Ramirez’s father did not even get to finish grade school and was put to work in fields around 9 years old.

During the 1980s, Mexico was struggling with a financial crisis, essentially forcing the poorest citizens to flee for America where there was a higher demand for work. Ramirez’s father immigrated to the U.S. during the crisis and later became a citizen after marrying Ramirez’s mother.

“Seeing everyone work hard has encouraged me to go to college,” Ramirez said. “They want me to make the money they do or better, but not have to work hard labor jobs. My stepmom works two eight-hour shifts a day at least, and that’s all just trying to contribute.”

Ramirez’s family has been supportive of him in his endeavors ever since he became involved with music in sixth grade.

“I wanted to be able to help kids express themselves through music,” Ramirez said. “My dad has been supportive because he [knows] the joy that music can bring to kids.”

While some members of his family dabble in music, his past band directors inspired Ramirez to pursue a career in music education because he saw how happy his directors were doing what they loved day in and day out.

“He was one of those dream kids that every director would kill for,” said Mark Melton, director of bands at Pine Tree High School. “Early on, he was a good, consistent hard worker.”

In addition to being involved in concert and marching band, Ramirez competed in UIL All-Region Band all four years of his high school career. He also advanced to the area competition, participated in the UIL Solo and Ensemble Contest where he advanced to the state level every year and served as a drum major for the band and the trombone section leader his senior year.

“He was always encouraging of everyone around him,” Melton said. “He excelled academically. He excelled musically. I think whatever doors are open to him, he can go through and be successful at.”

Ramirez graduated in the top 10 percent of his class and received an academic scholarship as well as three grants.

“For the longest time, it worried my dadbeing able to pay for college,” Ramirez said. “It still worries him. He always encouraged me to work really hard in school because he knew scholarships were a thing. He didn’t want me to end up like he was. He didn’t want me to end up working a job like he had.”

Ramirez’s roommate, religious studies and history freshman Connor McCain, believes that Ramirez’s respect for his family’s efforts and his determination to make them proud is what fuels him.

“Since he’s a music major, he’s busy a lot,” McCain said. “He’s kind of anxious sometimes, so I think [music] is kind of his way of expressing himself. It’s music — he doesn’t have to be anxious about it. He’ll always be able to express himself that way.”

Although Ramirez has come from a busy family, he’s still made time for his studies and his passion.

Through the hard work of his family and the efforts he made in school, Ramirez has been given a life where he has the chance to pursue his dreams. He would not have this opportunity had his father not immigrated to America in the 1980s.

“For [my family], it means a chance for a better life — what they could have had,” Ramirez said. “That’s the story for many people who come to America — a chance to live a better life than what they were experiencing.”

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Rebecca Najera

Rebecca Najera

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