“This is what it's like to be a 'Dreamer' working at IBM and fighting to keep from being deported”

11/28/2017
Business Insider


“Alan Torres is a ‘dreamer,’ meaning his parents brought him to the US illegally when he was a kid, he grew up not knowing he wasn't a legal resident and he loves the US as his home country. 

“Since the Trump Administration announced that it was ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), his future hangs…on uncertainty.

“…Today, Torres is a software quality assurance engineer at IBM, one of 30 dreamers that IBM employs. IBM is one of a number of tech companies fighting vigorously to keep dreamers from being deported. President Donald Trump wants Congress to deal with dreamers by passing legislation. But with the current state of dysfunction in Washington, that's easier said than done.

“Trump gave Congress six months to figure it out. After that, if Trump doesn't alter course, Dreamers will not be spared from deportation. 

“…Torres, 31, agreed to speak to Business Insider about what life is like for him as Dreamer tech worker — his story is both heartbreaking and hopeful.

“From his point of view: Imagine being forced to leave a job you love, a home you own, and the country where you grew up because of something your parents did when you were just a kid

“…It wasn't until Torres tried to apply for his driver's permit, which required a social security number that he didn't have, that he started to realize that something was different about his situation. He asked around about how to get this number and that's how he learned that, not only wasn't he not a citizen, he wasn't even a legal resident.

“Torres was a good student who had been taking advanced placement classes and his teachers encouraged him to apply for college. That too, felt impossible without a social security number.

“…This was before the DACA program, which meant he couldn't qualify for financial aid. So he paid for each class in full. He transferred to a university and obtained an IT degree. It took him about seven years to graduate, taking classes as he could afford them. When he graduated, ‘I never thought I could practice my profession. I was just doing it for the sake of putting the degree on the wall.’

“While in college he met a woman who was an IT director for a major corporation. She wanted to hire him after graduation but he wouldn't agree to an interview, not wanting to expose his illegal status. 

“…To his shock, a few weeks later, he was offered the job.

“It was 2012, the DACA program had just started and he had already applied for it. On the same day he got the job offer, ‘I received notification that I was approved for DACA and I would receive my work permit in a couple of weeks,’ he said. ‘It changed my world overnight.’

“…He did well in his career, moving to various jobs until he was hired at IBM almost two years ago. His proudest achievement: saving enough money to buy a house earlier this year. 

“…But then the Trump administration announced the end of the DACA program. His DACA status is good through 2019…

“…The idea of being forced to leave his job, house, friends that he loves is both terrifying and depressing.

“…IBM has been bringing its Dreamer employees like Torres to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers so they can see the people who will be impacted by their legislation, or lack thereof. Some 800,000 people are in a similar situation in the US.

“…IBM is one of a number of companies that brought Dreamers to DC on Wednesday as part of an organization called the Coalition for the American Dream that seeks to get a law passed that will allow Dreamers to stay in the US.”

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