Advocate Stories, Policy Updates
Jacqueline Mayorga: “I’m Here to Stay.”
by Megan Plassmeyer on Sep 7, 2017
WREN stands with the Dreamers of South Carolina. Learn more about the story of a Dreamer in our community and how you can take action.
Jacqueline Mayorga is a dreamer in every sense of the word. Her parents, undocumented immigrants from Mexico, brought her to South Carolina when she was just three years old. Since then, she has grown and aspired to help and advocate for her community and those who feel voiceless. However, the road to fruition has had its obstacles.
After graduating from Spring Valley High School, prior to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, Jacqueline began to understand the implications that came with an undocumented status. Public universities in South Carolina would not consider her as an applicant, no matter her previous success in high school and without consideration for how long she had lived in the United States. In spite of these barriers, Jacqueline was able to apply and receive acceptance from Columbia College, which as a private university, was able to welcome her to their Spanish Language and Biology programs. Her leadership abilities flourished as she took on new roles within Chi Beta Phi Society and the Latina Student Association, always with the desire to understand the needs of those around her and create brave spaces for dialogue.
While in college, DACA became an option and Jacqueline was immediately approved for the program. However, the recent announcement to rescind DACA paints a path of uncertainty for the recent college graduate. Interested in pursuing additional education in order to become a physician’s assistant, Jacqueline is left to ask herself, “Am I ever going to be able to practice here?”
As someone who has persistently worked towards achieving her dreams, Jacqueline’s strength has not faltered. “When I’m told no, I don’t shy away,” she tells us. “I am here to stay; I am here to work hard; I’m here to keep learning and keep educating myself and educating my community. It hasn’t been easy but I know it’s not impossible, so I will keep working hard until I can make that difference.”
Stigma has also been an oppressive factor that Jacqueline has had to work through. Allyship is important, but not everyone truly takes the time to hear the perspectives and understand the lives of those with deferred action status, specifically women.
“Be accepting, listen to the stories. People do not realize that we are your neighbors. We work hard. When people think of illegal aliens they think of people who are on food stamps or people looking for a ‘free ride’- that’s not the case.” says Jacqueline.
The removal of DACA places at risk the nearly 800,000 current DACA recipients—including 7,000 here in South Carolina. While strong women like Jacqueline will continue to lead in opposition to this decision, it is important that our community come together in support of the DREAM Act, which will allow DACA recipients to work citizenship and contribute fully to our communities and society, like they all want and deserve.*
WREN stands with dreamers like Jacqueline. To Take Action Now -> Click Here
Note: Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina’s Immigrant Families Initiative is collecting Dreamer and DACA recipient stores from South Carolina to share with community stakeholders and legislators. If you are interested in sharing your immigrant journey, please reach out to Stephanie Cooper-Lewter at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Thank you to South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center for providing background information and advocacy resources for this blog.