The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Dania Aceves
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) City College student Dania Aceves, child development major, outside Rhoda Hall North. Photo by Sara Nevis | Staff Photographer | [email protected]

by Denzell Washington | Guest Writer

It is said that every great dream begins with a dreamer. Well, this “Dreamer” is lucid and is well on her way to fulfilling her dream.

City College student Dania Aceves is a “Dreamer,” a term commonly used to describe people who were brought illegally to the U.S. when they were children. The DREAM Act allows Aceves to stay in California, but not as a legal citizen.

And like a dreamer, Aceves has met nightmares along the way. It has not been all rainbows and butterflies, but that hasn’t slowed her down one bit. She was born in Atotonilco, a small town in Jalisco, Mexico. She is powering through the difficulties of being a DACA student, another term derived from more immigration reform named the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, all stalled in the Trump Era.

Aceves, 19, who is one of two children, arrived in the U.S. at about 4 months old in 1999. She arrived separately from her parents. Being a baby apart from her mother was hard on Aceves. Once they were reunited, the family relocated to Williams, a small farm town on the outskirts of Sacramento.

In the life of this “Dreamer,” it’s going to take a lot more than just clicking her heels to get back home.

“Before I even knew what being illegal was, I remember every December or summer, all my friends were going to Mexico, and I couldn’t go,” Aceves says. “I would ask my parents, ‘Why can’t I go?’ They would tell me, ‘It’s because if you go, you can’t come back.’”

Because she was not born in the U.S., becoming a DACA student still does not give the student access to go back and forth across the border.

“We could go if it’s a family emergency, and we get two weeks,” Aceves says, “but that was before Trump got into office.”

As positive and open as a person can be, Aceves’ aura is colorful.

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“She’s a little bit of everything,” says Ingrid Rodriguez, a friend of Aceves. “Authentic. You can always count on her.”

With an appetite for a better future, Aceves consumed a lot of information about becoming a DACA student before applying. Her parents were afraid of the process, but Aceves was ready to take control of her life. Understanding that it was a careful legal process, she got counsel from a lawyer, who informed her of everything she needed to know.

She met the requirements. She had proof of living in the country since she was in kindergarten. After paying $495 to apply, she was granted access to work and to a future for higher education. She began working at 16 and knew that “the permit must be renewed every two years.”

“We know how much harder it is,” says Rodriguez, who is also a DACA student. “We have to push for everything that we do, but it’s helped us in a sense, because we know how much harder it is. It’s helped shape us into who we are.”

Cecilia Orduno, another friend, sees qualities in Aceves that will help her accomplish her goals.

“She’s driven and really cares about others,” says Orduno, who also notes Aceves’ empathetic personality.

Many students go to college unaware of what they want to do with their future, but for Aceves it is clear:  child development.

“Since I was younger, I always liked kids,” Aceves says. “I like being around them. They’re interesting, funny and cute.

“I realized that being a child is very important because it builds who you are, into becoming an adult. I just want to understand the way children work, and I want to help develop them into being successful.”

Excited for the future, Aceves is in the process of applying for a job at Applied Behavior Consultants. There the “Dreamer” will be working with children with autism and other behavioral disabilities, working toward her dream.

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