Meet Jose and Ola, Two Dreamers Pen their Hopes and Fears

Filed under Immigration

The Dream

In April 2013, we released a compelling 30-minute documentary by Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim sharing the stories of four “Dreamers” (young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, who have lived and gone to school here, and who in many cases identify as American). The Dream is Now featured the stories of Alejandro, whose status prevented him from enlisting; Ola, who despite her work in a university lab researching cancer treatments, faced deportation; Jose, whose status prevented him from utilizing his degree in mechanical engineering; and Erika, a leader of the national Dreamer movement, who lived in fear that any day her family could be deported.

In Their Own Words

We recently sat down with Ola and Jose and asked them to pen letters describing both where they were now as well as their insights regarding immigration reform.

Ola, who worked at a University lab during the filming of the documentary, has since graduated and is headed to Medical School this year. She addressed her letter to her mother—a strong and steadfast woman whose continued inspiration and support have been the catalyst for her success.

My name is Jose R. Patiño and I am a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. It’s only through president Obama’s DACA program that I’ve been able to secure my position as a teacher in Arizona’s public school system.

My family crossed the Arizona border in 1995, during a time at which many undocumented immigrants were forced to enter the country through Arizona. Policy changes in Texas and California made migration there impossible. My mother and three siblings came to this country to unite our family.

And the day we found out I got accepted, you celebrated the fact that we had finally broken through the gateway and were overcoming the confines of our undocumented status.

I also remember the day they tried to take away everything we had worked so hard to build. They told us I would not graduate high school because they had other plans for us. Even then, your tenacity did not fold—you were firm that no one could ever take away what I had worked to hard to get. We found our way out of that nightmare and into the University of Michigan. You continued to encourage me, explaining that nothing ever felt as good as overcoming the limitations foisted on you.

How could I not believe in myself when you believed in me enough to do that?

Along the way, we’ve stumbled upon opportunities we could never have dreamed of. My research was published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry, which you of course framed so that you could show everyone you knew. I had the chance to learn from and work with nationally acclaimed doctors, chemists and researchers.

As we get closer and closer to the end of this chapter, I have to admit you were right. Every obstacle we have overcome, every rule we have had to break and change, every imposed limit we have faced, fought, and overruled, has been worth it. Because I know that when I walk across the stage at my graduation ceremony, you’ll be there to celebrate the accomplishment of our dream.

Mom, the most important thing you have taught me is to be unwavering. I will succeed, regardless of our status. As I prepare to fight my way into this next journey, medical school, I am totally confident. I’m not longer the little girl behind the counter standing on the stool, trying to be like mom. Because now I am like you--I’m a strong, tenacious, proud woman, resolute in my refusal to give up on my dreams… despite the barriers yielded by my circumstances. Today, I’m just like you, Mom.

Jose teaches math at a public high school in Arizona. In his moving letter, he petitions Sarah Saldaña (the national Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to immediately halt all impending deportations.

My name is Jose R. Patiño and I am a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. It’s only through president Obama’s DACA program that I’ve been able to secure my position as a teacher in Arizona’s public school system.

My family crossed the Arizona border in 1995, during a time at which many undocumented immigrants were forced to enter the country through Arizona. Policy changes in Texas and California made migration there impossible. My mother and three siblings came to this country to unite our family.

This was an extremely painful time for me. I recall how vulnerable I felt. I felt shamed by teachers, classmates, friends and neighbors. I remember walking home from school and hearing other children say, “that’s the kid whose father was deported.” I was stigmatized and unfortunately most undocumented children still feel this way.

I know many immigrant families who are afraid of being separated from their loved ones. Earlier this year, one of my students shared with me that her mother had been deported. Her younger siblings had been taken in by her uncles and aunts, but her extended family didn’t have the means to support her. She lives in a group home. This despite the fact that she has a mother who loves and wants to care for her. It’s a travesty.

As a teacher and active member in my community I have witnessed the trauma that our broken immigration system imposes on our families. We can interrupt this cycle. Imagine a world where children can be tucked in a bed by their parents without worrying if they will be there at night. A world where children can focus on their education instead of worrying about whether or not their parents are going to be home when they get out of school. A world where parents can drive to buy groceries without worrying if they would be coming home. A world where parents can go to church on a Sunday morning without the fear of not returning home. A world where children admire and respect police officers instead of fearing and hating them. A world where enforcement agencies such as ICE keep communities safe.

I urge you to safeguard the lives and security of our families. I urge you to protect people who incurred felony 6 charges (identity theft) and felony 5 charges (forgery of documents) in their efforts to simply secure work and provide for their families. I urge you to keep families together. You can make a difference in many peoples’ lives. You can be the person who ensures our children are raised by in-tact families...and assures we’ve no more broken homes.

The Politics

Jose and Ola continue to actively pursue more progressive immigration policies. Weeks after they penned these letters, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld a Texas-based judge’s injunction blocking the Obama administration from protecting five million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Obama administration has appealed the ruling to the U.S Supreme Court.

What's Next?