Tualatin woman fights for permanent solution to DACA
A Tualatin woman who traveled to Washington, D.C., twice in recent months in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) policy is hoping a permanent fix can be found to the issue that affects her so personally.
Azucena Javier, an 18-year-old Tualatin High School graduate who now attends Portland Community College, said she hopes some type of positive action is taken soon on DACA, the Obama-era immigration policy that has allowed people who were brought to this country illegally as minors to receive citizenship.
Earlier this month, Javier joined a group from the Arizona-based #Vote4Dream campaign who journeyed to the Nation's Capitol to push Congressional leaders to approve some type of permanent solution to the DACA policy, which affects an estimated 800,000 people. She made a similar trip in November.
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday, President Trump spoke of offering a path to citizenship for 1.8 million people who were brought to the United States illegally as children if they meet education and work requirements.
"The Vote4Dream has been there every single week since after Thanksgiving," Javier said.
For Javier, both trips were eye-openers.
"I went there to fight for my life basically," said the 10-year Tualatin resident, who was brought into the United States from a small village in Mexico when she was only 3 years old by a smuggler. "The politicians ... (who) have my future in their hands are there."
While Javier, whose three siblings are legal residents, was able to renew her DACA status in October, she knows others aren't as lucky.
That's why she and her group arrived in Washington, D.C., in November and immediately got to work, trying to schedule appointments with federal legislators and actually chasing senators and representatives from both sides of the isle through the Capitol to tell them the importance of their cause.
"In that week, we spoke to 185 members of Congress," she estimated. "We just wanted them to know we're humans, too. We have dreams. We have hopes."
Javier said she talked to Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden on both her November and January trips.
"They both expressed their support for us," she said, noting that her earlier trip involved all members of the Oregon delegation. The Vote4Dream group spent their nights sleeping on a church floor.
During their latest trip earlier this month, some of the group members were able to speak briefly with Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter who also serves as an adviser to him.
Javier said the group introduced themselves as Dreamers, a reference to the Dream Act, a bill that was supposed to provide a pathway to citizenship for those who immigrated illegally as children. They then asked the First Daughter how they could help her with the issue.
"Her answer was, 'we are working on a permanent solution,'" said Javier, who was honored last year by the Tualatin City Council as one of the city's "Youth Volunteers of the Year."
Javier said she constantly fears that her parents might be deported back to Mexico. However, she said her parents' goal was that they come to America so that she could have a better future.
"They sacrificed everything," she said.
Javier said she has no future in Mexico, a country where she said her grandmother was murdered in 2004 by police officers. Those same officers eventually ended up in jail and promised to kill Javier's family if they ever returned to the country.
Javier said she has cried a lot over the years, most recently in high school where she feared her immigration status would keep her from what was once a dream of becoming a neurosurgeon. Today, she is attending Portland Community College, hoping to eventually enter a four-year university and ideally pursue a career in law.
As part of her latest trip to Washington, D.C., Javier said her group watched the Congressional proceedings in the galleries with one of the most emotional times coming when Congress was getting ready to vote on a shutdown. That's when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the government shouldn't shut down because of illegal immigration, she said.
"That hit me hard," she said, noting that floor discussion also turned to the DACA issue not being one of urgency. "It hurt us a lot. I started crying."
Not quite done yet with her push to find a solution to DACA, Javier plans to travel to Washington, D.C., a third time next week, continuing to advocate for her life, she said. She will celebrate her 19th birthday there on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, she said she remains perennially optimistic about the fate of DACA.
"I'm very hopeful we're going to get a permanent solution soon," she said.
After watching the political process up close and personal, she also has been entertaining thoughts of a possible future career as well.
"I've seriously thought about running for Congress," she said.