Naún Cerrato is a Mennonite DREAMer who lives in Elkhart, Ind., and is a member of the church council at Iglesia Menonita del Buen Pastor in Goshen, Ind. He was born in Choluteca, Honduras, and brought to the U.S. before age 16. Through hard work and many sacrifices, he has been able to earn his associate’s degree in business administration, and he is currently completing a bachelor of arts degree in business at Indiana University South Bend (IUSB). This post was originally written and published in Spanish. You can view it here.
Speaking with different people from our Latino community, there seems to be an atmosphere of optimism. The Hispanic community has found new motivation, as if it had been injected with hope in anticipation of what appears to be imminent immigration reform. This hope was born when many of us realized that President Barack Obama had signed an executive order for deferred action. The executive order was a huge relief for many soñadores like myself, known in English as “DREAMers.”
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program helps undocumented youth who were brought by their parents to the United States before age 16 gain legal migratory status and avoid being deported. There are other requirements that have to be met in order to qualify for and benefit from this executive order. We have come to be called “DREAMers” because of the proposed DREAM Act legislation that, if approved by the U.S. Congress, would allow us to obtain permanent resident status.
I am very happy to know that many DREAMers have been approved for Deferred Action, although others are still waiting to learn the status of their case. I am also happy to know that a good number of DREAMers will attend the July 1-6 Mennonite Church USA convention in Phoenix, Arizona. I am one of them.
Like all DREAMers, my life was very difficult because I lived with a constant fear that could only be eased by the implementation of a just law. Without appropriate documentation, life was very difficult for me. As a young DREAMer, my success depended on Jesus Christ alone. It was Jesus who motivated me to finish my studies. Putting my faith in Jesus Christ helped me be faithful to my goals to not give up and to see my sacrifice bear fruit someday. Despite not having the proper documentation to live in peace in this beautiful country, I felt that God was always watching over me—when I drove, studied and went to work. In the same way that God watched over Joseph in Egypt, God watched over me. As a follower of Christ, I never abandoned my goals, and by the grace of God I was able to live in a world of shadows in which the doors always remained closed until just recently, when I was approved for Deferred Action.
Deferred Action changed my life in a very special way; it is as though I have been given the opportunity to play on a basketball team after waiting for many years. My approval for Deferred Action will help me to fulfill my dreams. It makes me happy to know that this benefit will also allow me to comply with the legal requirements of the state of Indiana. Before Deferred Action, the university diploma I had earned was worthless to me. I had reached that goal but could not benefit from my studies.
Now I no longer have an excuse not to continue dreaming and achieving my goals. Deferred Action has given me the opportunity to explore areas of opportunity that I couldn’t before.
I would like to finish by giving some encouragement to all of the DREAMers whose applications for Deferred Action have not been approved and who will not be attending Phoenix 2013. It is normal to be discouraged, especially about a unique opportunity such as this one. I advise you to not lose faith and to believe in God. Perhaps your cases are being reviewed or sent to another office. That happened with my Deferred Action application when my case was sent to the Nebraska office to be reviewed.
Translation by Andrew Clouse and Annette Brill Bergstresser