A Face of DACA
March 16, 2018
Rosie Gomez came to the United States from San Luis Potosi, Mexico when she was six years old. According to Gomez, they overstayed their Visa for an American education and to learn English.
“We figured out ways to stay under the radar,” said Gomez. “If my family ever got stopped, my dad was my uncle.”
Gomez’s older brother, Oscar Gomez, began lawn mowing for a man he met through Bethlehem Academy in Faribault, Minnesota, due to the increasing difficulty to find jobs without perfect paperwork, according to Gomez.
“Before DACA, I wasn’t even planning on going to college,” said Gomez. “When you’re not legally documented you can’t apply for FAFSA or most scholarships.”
Gomez was accepted to Bemidji State University, but had to no resources to pursue her dreams.
“I took over my brother’s lawn mowing job to earn some money, and one day he told me to come over because I broke the lawnmower. I was nervous that I might’ve lost the job, but when I got there, he informed me that he was going to finance my college education,” said Gomez.
In 2012, the DACA program was introduced by the Obama administration. According to Gomez, this began a four to six months process of paperwork preparation.
“We had to gather money, meet with lawyers, and gather evidence of our U.S. existence,” said Gomez. “My family and I tore up our house looking for the littlest of things, even certificates from elementary school.”
According to Gomez, the process to apply was vigorous, involving questions ranging from thoughts about homicide to intentions to become a terrorist.
Both Gomez and her brother Oscar were approved for the program, according to Gomez. “It was surreal to get a social security card with my name on it, something I have always dreamed about.”
This sparked motivation into Gomez to finish school and begin a new chapter in her life as a “normal person.”
“We finally got to do things that most people take for granted, like going into a store and asking for a work application,” said Gomez.
After graduating from Bemidji State, Gomez got a job as a registered nurse at Methodist Hospital in July of 2016.
In the 2016 presidential election, one of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to end DACA.
“I had just started work a couple of months ago, and I felt like my life had just begun,” said Gomez. “When Trump was elected president, it felt like it was being taken away.”
According to Gomez, it was difficult to conversate with coworkers and patients who didn’t care, when to her, it was her entire life.
Gomez, like other DACA beneficiaries was given only a month to gather materials to renew, when it can normally take upwards of three. Gomez’s permit was renewed until October of 2019, but she attributes this to her stable job and supportive family, who many do not have.
“A lot of people were afraid,” said Gomez. “With DACA applications, the government already has all the information they need to come find us. Many people did not want to submit this information again.”
Gomez emphasizes many people didn’t fit the criteria for renewal, describing it as depending on how the government is feeling.
“The media tries to clump together DACA beneficiaries together into people taking advantage of the system, but many didn’t have a choice,” said Gomez. “I was a six-year-old and following my parents. I didn’t have a choice.”
According to Gomez, you will go crazy if you think about it; it will consume your life. The littlest things such as buying a new kitchen pan are accompanied by thoughts such as: Will I even be here to use it?
“No one would leave their home country to deal with racism and not knowing how to provide for their kids for nothing. We came for a reason,” said Gomez.
“I wish people would get to know us, get to know me,” said Gomez. “They don’t know I am a nurse. They don’t know I’m taking care of their grandparents.”