Tolu had no idea that her life would change when she stepped into her guidance counselor’s office, as part of her college application process. “You can’t go to college,” he told the then-high school student. “You’re not a citizen.”
That’s not necessarily true. Undocumented youth aren’t barred from going to college, but they are blocked from federal aid, which does then create a roadblock to college. But that hadn’t been a worry for Tolu, who thought she was here legally. She was devastated. “I was like, ‘what are you talking about?’” she says in a video from the The Love Vote campaign. “I felt like my whole world was shattering.”
This is sadly more common that people realize. Young immigrants have gone to apply for a worker’s permit, or a driving permit, or, like Tolu, college, only to find out about their immigration status. Luckily, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program brought some stability into her life by allowing her to work legally. But, that stability continues to be under threat by the Trump administration.
“At the age that I am now, I feel humiliated that I’m not in a place where I can control my own destiny,” she says. “It’s just the hardest thing to describe, you’ve done everything that you thought was the right thing, and someone is still saying, ‘oh no, that’s not enough. You have to go.’” This November, she needs your help.
“There’s been so many elections that I just have wanted to vote,” she says, “and I just actually cannot, and it frustrates me so much to hear people just saying that they just didn’t make it or they just didn’t feel like it or it doesn’t matter … a lot of things in my life are directly impacted by the votes that happened a year ago.”
While DACA has been an important temporary lifeline, it’s just that—temporary. What Tolu, Yonny, and hundreds of thousands of other DACA recipients and their families need is permanent stability in the form of legislation, and they need a Democratic Congress that will usher that in.
“If I could vote, I would,” she says. “It's critically important to me that you vote to ensure a clean DREAM Act and other policies impacting your neighbors, colleagues, and friends.”