Guest Post: A DACA librarian is not a threat to America

Armando Peniche Rosales
Armando Peniche Rosales

I’ve always loved libraries. When my parents first brought me to Denver from southern Mexico when I was nine years old, the city’s libraries were welcoming and familiar places where I felt like I belonged. I spent countless hours there after school finishing homework, checking out movies or dreaming about visiting the faraway places described in the books I picked off the shelves. Today, I’m a library program associate at the Valdez-Perry branch of the Denver Public Library in the heavily Hispanic Globeville, Elyria and Swansea– or GES – neighborhood. There, I organize homework, science and art programs for kids who come to take refuge in the library just like I did.

But while I work to make the library a safe space for our city’s children, I myself live in constant fear and uncertainty – because in September 2017, President Trump ordered the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, which gives immigrants like me who arrived here as children the right to work and live without fear of deportation. Although a court order allowed me to temporarily extend my status, I worry that I’ll lose my job and my right to stay here with my 8-year-old U.S. citizen son. Yet there’s finally a solution in sight. In June, the House is scheduled to vote on the Dream and Promise Act that would provide permanent legal protections to more than 1.3 million young immigrants, often called Dreamers.  

The legislation would grant us residency and the chance to one day become full U.S. citizens. I can’t begin to describe what it would feel like to truly belong to the country I’ve called home for the past 23 years. I’ve been waiting in the shadows as long as I can remember. Even though I earned straight A’s in school and dreamed of being a pilot, I couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition that immigrants were then required to pay. It was excruciating watching my friends go on to college while I made ends meet working as a host and server at a local seafood restaurant.

Despite the challenges we’ve faced, Colorado’s nearly 25,000-strong DACA eligible population have shown that we belong here. We make important economic contributions to our adopted home: More than 95 percent of us are employed, according to New American Economy. Nationally, we pay $4 billion in taxes each year, and more than 43,000 Dreamers have started their own businesses, creating jobs for thousands of Americans.

That’s partly because DACA, by giving us stability and the right to work legally, has allowed us to dream bigger. When the program was created in 2012, my entire world opened up. I thought “What can I do to make a difference?” As a new father, I was also motivated to find a meaningful career. I remembered what a haven the library had been for me and applied for a job as a book shelver, then worked my way up to clerk and eventually library program associate.

I see so much of myself in the children and teens I serve here, and I want to encourage them to spread their wings and get inspired by the worlds they encounter in the books they read. I can’t imagine how good it would feel to hold an actual U.S. passport and visit all the places I’ve discovered in books. I took Chinese for four years in high school and dream about seeing the Great Wall of China. And then of course, returning home to Denver.

Many of the children who come to my library are from immigrant families, and just as I once was, they’re hungry for a sense of community. I am so grateful for the community I found here so many years ago, and want to provide a place of belonging for them, too, where their hearts will be filled and their minds enriched. I believe that in my own small way I’m making Denver a better place, and I hope Congress will give me the chance to stay.

The Colorado Independent occasionally runs guest posts from government officials, local experts and concerned citizens on a variety of topics. These posts are meant to provide diverse perspectives and do not represent the views of The Independent. To pitch a guest post, please contact tips@coloradoindependent.com or visit our submission page.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Working without legal presence is a threat to the rule of law. You may have DACA now ,but it will be proven unlawful soon. But it may be moot as you have an an kor baby now.
    The thousands more coming are uneducated and will compete for the freebies your “Primos” now enjoy,there is only so much to go around ,myself and many others are tired are paying to support citizens of other nations.
    Sorry just the way it is…

    • Can you name ONE citizen of another nation you’ve supported??

      Your ignorance is a threat to the rule of law…

      • Your name calling show’s your bias. Of course every American taxpayer pays for illegal aliens .Property taxes for schools,jails healthcare etc. My auto uninsured driver premium is over $300 a year.. To ignore those fact;s is the epitome of ignorance. I cannot name one citizen of another country I have supported if i did I would call I.C.E. Specious argument on your part.

  2. Armando, when I call my legislators in June encouraging them to pass the DACA legislation, it will be with you in mind.

  3. As a practical matter, I believe in amnesty for ALL undocmented immigrants who have been in America at least five years, been employed steadily, and have been otherwise law-abiding except for their immigration status.

    Having said that, I also support shutting off entry to any more immigrants, except for those very few with legitimate claims for asylum in the US. And those few can apply at American diplomatic missions in foreign countries, not at the US border.

    Immigrants who wish to follow the established procedures to come to America legally should be prioritized on merit. Example: A foreign national who is well-educated and possesses skills that will be in demand by employers here must come before someone who is just an extended family member of an immigrant already here (with little else to recommend them)

    Of course, neither party has the political will to compromise and achieve the best outcome for everyone, with an emphasis on America First. DACA has been a chimera from its beginning..

      • My paternal ancestors arrived in what is now the US back in the 1700s, and my maternal ancestors before the Civil War. They didn’t have to contend with immigration laws and regulations, but those were far different times given the largely unsettled state of the country. True, being Germans and Danes they would have had an easier time in any case.

        As I said, I support amnesty for those who came here by any means and have proven themselves to be worthy of American citizenship over the course of years. We are not the world’s homeless shelter, however, and various philanthropic organizations and the United Nations should help those in need in their native countries.

  4. Somehow our local newspaper heard of my curch after-school program for middle-school kids. A plurality of the kids were Hispanic. They came because it was safer to talk and laugh and snack with us than to walk alone to a house where both parents were still at work.

    The reporter asked if she could bring a photographer. I replied that I’d have to check with the kids.

    The first question I got was, “If my picture is in the paper, will my parents be deported?”

    This from an 11-year-old girl who had no say in her parents’ earlier decision to seek a better life for her and her siblings. I can’t imagine living with such childhood fears. She and her classmates know nothing of their family’s native life. They speak mostly American English/slang and have no memory of life in a “foreign land”.

    “Alums” of our ministry have graduated from high school. I connect with some as they go about their work in our community. Some are still studying in higher ed. All are contributing to our collective community as do (or not) native-born citizens.

    My ancestry records non-native born persons. Some of whom were described as “pirates” because they and their ships were conscripted by the nascent Amercan government in our struggle against the Brits. (We had no Navy).

    My family’s 18th century “illegals” eventually became leaders in the founding Denver and Golden business communities.

    We all have a similar heritage. So…we should celebrate Max and his promise and dedication and recognize and reward his participation in our children’s well-being.

    We should support DACA.

    Sue B. Mullins
    Loveland

  5. I’d be much more concerned about a DACA libertarian than a DACA librarian.

    They say history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes. Pretty sure an old racist Southern white dude said that, but I digress…enough about Mitch McConnell.

    Therefore, please don’t take it personally, Latinos…you’re just the next target of the local xenophobic nationalistic bullies. Soon they’ll move on to the next set of victims, just like they did after harassing the Irish, and the Italians, and the Chinese, and the Blacks, and the Southeast Asians, and the…well…you get the idea.

    Thankfully for everyone involved, the vast majority of Americans do not share their viewpoints.

    Bienvenidos.

  6. The negative comments on here are disgusting. You people act as if your bloodlines all originated in the U.S.. Most of you come from bloodlines who STOLE land, committed murder, rape, and slavery…even against children. That’s how your families got here. Who the hell are you to tell someone else not to seek a better life for their family?! The American dream is not dead…only to you people it is. This is the land of the free. Personally Armando, I will continue to fight against racism and people lacking morals, integrity, and the intellectual capacity to comprehend the United States constitution. To all the racists here…YOUR PARENTS FAILED.

  7. I thought the idea was to promote some discussion and diverse opinions–instead, those who do not support DACA are being accused of all sorts of things, and descended from murderers, thieves, and slavers without the least bit of information–this is why we cannot have civil discussions in this country; and to Diana, YOUR PARENTS OBVIOUSLY FAILED AS WELL.

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