Faces of Dreamers: Linett Isela Lopez, University of Houston-Downtown

October 10, 2018

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This is one in a series of posts on individual Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as young children, many of whom are under threat of deportation following the Trump administration’s decision in September 2017 to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.

DACA status helped Linett Isela Lopez pursue her goal of working with disadvantaged elementary school students, but now her dream is at risk. Like many other Dreamers, she has bounced between hope and fear as the future of DACA remains in limbo.

To raise awareness of the predicament she and other Dreamers find themselves in, Lopez wrote about her experiences in an opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle.

She describes begging her mom to let her stay behind in Mexico at age 15, when her mom decided to move the family to the United States for their safety. Lopez did not speak any English and found the transition difficult, but a high school algebra teacher encouraged her to dream of being an educator. Unfortunately, as an undocumented immigrant unable to work legally, her career options were reduced to cleaning houses and selling fruit at a small produce stand.

The creation of DACA in 2012 completely changed Lopez’s circumstances. She enrolled in the University of Houston-Downtown and is now working as a student teacher at a local elementary school while she pursues a degree in bilingual education. Her aim is to serve as an inspiration for her first grade students just as her algebra teacher was for her. But it’s hard to do that with a future so uncertain.

“When you consider that Texas has a teacher shortage, especially in bilingual education,” wrote Lopez, “It doesn’t make sense to push out college-educated DACA recipients like me, as so many of us are filling that vital need.”

Not only does Lopez worry about losing her job or getting deported, she also fears for her students and their parents, many of whom are also DACA recipients.

Read her full op-ed here.

—Carly O’Connell

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