My pursuit of the American dream began approximately 20 years ago when I came with my parents to the United States of America at the age of 4. I was born in Mexico City, but when people ask me where I’m from or where I grew up, I say York, Nebraska.
I grew up playing ball, participated in spelling bees at my local 4-H building and pledged allegiance to the American flag daily, alongside my native-born classmates and friends – living the typical life of any other child blessed to be in the U.S.
In my mind, I was just like everybody else because my community had accepted me for who I was, rather than on my immigration status, a status that I would have never imagined to have such a large impact in my life.
As I started college, my future looked bleak, even though I had been blessed with scholarships to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through privately funded awards. Without a work permit, I could not pursue internships like most of my classmates.
Suddenly, during the summer of 2012, just before my sophomore year, President Barack Obama announced the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provided me with a glimmer of hope.
This hope became a reality when I received my approval of DACA notice. For the first time in a while, I had peace of mind and felt like my family’s and my hard work was finally going to bring our dreams to fruition.
While DACA was a blessing, knowing that I would have to renew every two years, I knew that I would still be living life with limitations. Nonetheless, I have made the best out of the opportunities I have been presented.
Not only did I graduate with my undergraduate degree in accounting, I pursued my Master’s of Professional Accountancy, also from UNL. After graduating with my MPA, in May 2016, I began my career with KPMG as an audit associate in Omaha, serving clients in Lincoln, Omaha and other towns -- the biggest blessing, to this day.
Rather than celebrating my upcoming one-year anniversary with the firm, I am worried about my future with the firm and in this country. This comes as a result of the Trump administration’s decision to phase out DACA with a looming deadline of March 5, 2018, putting our futures back into limbo, unless Congress acts and passes the bipartisan DREAM Act of 2017.
I am just one of 800,000 responsible, hard-working, tax-paying Americans across the country who were covered by DACA, with 3,400 of us calling Nebraska home. A home that we cherish and do not take for granted. A home we are proud to give back to, as we start our careers in education, health care and other fields.
I am aware that the current federal political environment might not be as favorable for our cause, as we, and the more than 70 percent of Americans who support Dreamers and our families, would like, according to a recent Politico-Morning Consult poll, but that is the reality.
With that being said, we will not give up because, to a certain extent, life has been an uphill battle for most of us -- whether that may have been a language barrier or trying to figure out how to pay for our education. It has not mattered; we have thrived because of the American ideals we were raised with, ideals on which this country was founded.
The easy thing to do would be to lay low and see how the situation unfolds. Nevertheless, my fellow Dreamers, our allies and I will continue to work for what is right and just, so others can pursue their own American dream, just like me.
Our positive cultural and economic contributions will continue to make the United States of America the greatest nation in the world.
Armando Becerril Sierra is a DACA recipient who grew up in York, received both a bachelor's and a master's degree at UNL and works at KPMG in Omaha.