Making History / Stories / Uncertainty

Jason H.

josehJason H, 22, Long Beach, CA, Born in Mexico

I’ve begun my degree in environmental engineering as I get on-the-job training at the L.A. County Sanitation District, where I’ve been employed for the past three years. It’s hard working full-time and going to school, but I have big plans.

Thanks to DACA, I can build a real future. President Obama’s one executive order changed my life. It lifted me out of limbo and depression and allowed me to pursue my dreams like my peers who were starting college and careers. Even though I’d graduated with honors from high school, I had nowhere to go except to scrounge for menial jobs that paid little. With my DACA work permit, I was able to attain an entry-level position as a sweeper at county where my management and computer skills have made it possible for me to advance to waste operator and inspector, now supervising others. There is even the possibility that my employer may help with my tuition at Rio Hondo College in the future. I never dared to believe I could work at something I loved, that I could continue to be promoted as I acquired new skills and more education.

My aunt, who has been my real mom, brought me to the States when I was four. She rescued me when I was sick and living in poverty. She also brought my three sisters, so she saved our family. I continue to live with my aunt and cherish her immensely.

I’m saving for a home and want to build a life with my childhood sweetheart, Lizbeth. She has always encouraged me to continue my education as she pursues her studies. Lizbeth has just graduated from UCLA and is currently exploring the top law schools in the country.

I stay in touch with my mom, dad and three sisters but my aunt is the one who has made me into the person I’ve become. She has set me on my path and has been there for me through everything, even the loss of my U.S.-born, 19-year-old brother. She has always believed in me.

With DACA, I’m working hard to attain the American Dream. In my heart, I’m as American as anyone who was born here. I’m a leader and an agent for change. I have benefitted from the help of others and I believe it is my duty to give back. My life, my family, my work and my college are here. I’m not giving up all this, no matter who runs the country, though the political rhetoric is disconcerting. I’ve earned my place in the U.S. and I will overcome the uncertainty of politics with the knowledge that I am making a positive difference, like so many immigrants who have come before.