For my creative expression, I chose to go the creative route. Painting has always been an important part of my life and I love the idea of being able to portray messages to art. This piece is inspired by my family and what they did to come America. I discussed with them the idea of wanting to make something that provokes emotion and power. When talking to them, I asked them questions about why they came to America and what was the experience like. One of my aunts described to me that coming to America felt like moving mountains and crossing an ocean to find happiness and tranquility.
The painting displays a mother and her two children looking out into the mountains and the ocean to see all the things they hope America can bring to them. It also displays different things that other individuals mentioned was the reason they came to the United States. I wanted to include children in this painting because the reality is there are so many children who come to America at a young age. Many of my friends described not really knowing what was happening but they knew they had to follow their parent(s) wherever they went. As I attended La Raza’s graduation ceremony here at UNT, a student said in their speech, “Mom, remember when you crossed the border with two kids and three backpacks- we made it!” This was a very pivotal moment in the creative execution of the painting and it reassured me the direction I wanted to go towards.
This painting is meant to represent not the literal experience of coming to America. It is representing the level of difficulty and the sacrifices individuals will face in order to see a better future. Often times, the news evokes this negative image of immigrants but they fail to see the struggles to get to where they are at. I am so happy to see the final result of this painting and I hope it is one that can be emotional and relatable. As a child of immigrants, I know the power of my parents and I know the strength of their sacrifices. As I finish off my third year of undergrad, this painting reminds me that I owe it all to them for coming to America to allow me to have the education I have today.
Since the September 11th attacks, the question of how it feels to be a Muslim in America has been analysed from many angles. With the rise of Trump, nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment has taken centre-stage in US politics.The rate of attacks on Muslims on US soil has surpassed the levels recorded in 2001. I wanted to get deeper into the relationship Muslims have with the US, their personal experience living here, and how they perceive their identity and heritage.
I sat down with my friend and fellow UNT student Azmar, discussing the challenges of not only being a Muslim in the US but also being a Pakistani national. I wanted to hear more about an issue that is largely ignored or over-simplified, getting a deeper look at a minority group in the US that is much talked about, but very rarely talked to.
Azmar moved from Pakistan to the United States with his family in 2015. He spoke briefly about the desire for them to seek the prosperity and security of the US. He stated that his uncle sponsored his family’s visa application back in 1999, however 9/11 shifted the political landscape and visas from muslim countries were processed slower. Largely, the post 9-11 ramifications is analysed in the context of the subsequent US aggression abroad. However, Azmar’s family took just over 15 years to get their visa and had “stopped taking it seriously”, all but giving up on the prospect of coming.
Now in the States for four years, Azmar says that he himself has not experienced much Islamophobia. His mother, however, had been racially abused at the DMV. In an argument with an employee there, she was told, “if you guys are going to take our towers, then we’ll get you”. This blatant prejudice had not majorly discouraged him or his family from being Muslim or living in America generally, an example of the resilience instilled in him and his family which became obvious in the space of our conversation.
However, he made clear that his choice to dress in ‘western clothes’, the same clothes he wore back home in Pakistan, work as a protective mechanism for him against both stark and subtle racism. His concern was not about being attacked, it was a rather a more personal concern. Many of his friends he said, “have got uncomfortable with people” because of their choice to wear more Islamic dress. This was the most shocking part of the interview for me. This was my friend telling me that people he identified as friends would not accept him if he chose to express himself as more openly Muslim. They are accepting him, but not his identity, not really.
An unavoidable issue, unfortunately, is the rapid rise of President Donald Trump and his new brand of ‘American-First’ nationalism. He confirmed there had been an impact on him and his family’s view on their own security, but had more fear for the future than despair for the present. He referred to how Trump “gives voice” to a lot of people who are racist and radical on the fringe of the political sphere. Now, their views had become mainstreamed. His parents were “worried…but my family back home were way more worried”. His relatives in Pakistan saw Trump’s words and the news of his rise, and sincerely worried about the safety of them. Azmar played down some of the hysteria, arguing that things occasionally were overplayed in the media, however confirmed that he felt the average American citizen was clearly having their perception of immigrants shifting in a more negative direction.
The blame for this, he believes, is largely on the medias shoulders. Its tendency to label any muslim attacker (and only muslim attackers) as terrorists, was a particular example that riled him. He felt frustrated that the media was using its power to endanger his community, instead of leading from the front in educating the public on the issue. All many Americans know about the East, he argues, is Hollywood showing them big nosed, loud, aggressive terrorists. An ignorance, we both believe, that starts on the screen and can end in murderous attacks.
Lastly, I asked about the question of ‘dual loyalty’ and how he identifies now as a Pakistani national living in America. His first response was religious, telling me that the Quran states that he must defend the land he lives on, arguing that means it’s his “duty” to fight for the United States if circumstances meant it necessary. He made it clear that he spent most of his life in Pakistan, and therefore was “around 80% Pakistani”. He had made the US his home now though, accepting that as his present and likely future.
In my view, the lack of time we spend humanising those who have uprooted themselves, often to simply help their kids have a better life, is wholly damaging. The rise of nationalism in the US is creating an atmosphere of division and an intolerance of difference. This is not an original chapter in Western history, but Azmar’s concern of a shift against his community is demonstrated by the spike in attacks not seen since 9/11. The trend seems to be going against the liberal values America has publicly said it values so much, harking back to an uglier time in its history.
Ever been rubbing your temples on a Thursday afternoon during a long and tiring week? You know, the kind of week where you want to just scream, “There has GOT to be something easier than this stupid desk job!”. The kind of day where you want to pick up and visit your favorite cousin in Brazil for the week? Or maybe the kind of day where going back to school and finishing that degree seems like the only way out? Well why not do just that? Why not just do what the 690,000 other DACA recipients get to do? In fact, here are 3 advantages extended to DACA recipients that are mighty enticing.
1.Look For Another Job:
There has to be millions of jobs out there! Why not just hop on Indeed and knock out some applications to burn time? After all, DACA recipients get a work permit that is valid for 2 years! You only have to pay a $495 refilling fee every time you want to renew it. Your application didn’t get processed in time? Don’t worry, you will only get fired. The job prospects are so dope with these restrictions.
2: Go Back To School.
You really need that degree? Bet. All you would have to do as a DACA recipient is first come up with funding. Easy. Don’t have thousands of dollars lying around every semester? Bet. There are 16 whole states who are willing to extend the opportunity to pay In-State tuition to you. Thats 32% of the states ! Not bad. There are even 6 states that will allow you the option to apply for in state financial aid. Can you believe it ?? Thats 12%. College tuition has steadily risen year over year for the last decade. The largest benefactor of these rates has been the federal government. Clearly, they are still highly busy counting their profits……and that must be the only logical reason I could think of as to why they are currently not even able to extend federal financial aid opportunities to the DACA students.
3: Take that Vacation.
Treat yo Self! The burn out is real, and you need to just unplug for a few days. If you are on DACA, this is a simple enough process. The First step is applying for Advance Parole. This is to alert the government that you will be leaving the country. Advance Parole is sometime given out if for urgent humanitarian, educational, and employment purposes only. Once received, the only thing to worry about now is reentry. Reentry is not guaranteed. But like, the only reason that you wouldn’t be allowed back is if a customs agent deems you inadmissible for health reasons. Or security reasons. Or if you have an order for decoration issued against you. But other than that you are good!
In all seriousness, DACA recipients have to jump through hoop after hoop when dealing with every day tasks. Stuff that we don’t even think twice about can easily be a life altering decision. These three “advantages” are just a few example of what it is like a day in the life of a DACA recipient.
Recently, I found out that someone I have worked with on and off for 5 years now is a DACA recipient. He pays for tuition as well as helps out his parents with his paycheck. He has had to leave our company twice, each time to due to delays in his DACA renewal, leaving him without a valid work permit. He was left without a job and struggling until the legal stuff was cleared and he could return work. Though we work for an empathetic company that has allowed him to return, there are thousands of people who don’t have same opportunity. He has not been able to go visit his grandmother who is 96 years old in Mexico due uncertainty associated with his reentry. He opened up about how important school, work, and family life is to him. Things that I often take for granted, like a drivers license, mean so much to him. It compelled me to look deeper into DACA restrictions and misconceptions and provided insight I greatly lacked.
As fate would have it, protests sprung up on UNT campus on April 12, 2019. These protesters particularly were advocating for DACA students and immigrants as a whole. I was able to watch the demonstrators for about 20 minutes and was proud to be a member of the Mean Green family.
Millions of students and parents are eagerly waiting to obtain legal status in the U.S. to find employment and continue their education with recent legislation presented by President Barak Obama. Recently a Texas federal district court judge, Judge Andrew S. Hanen, issued a preliminary injunction decision in the lawsuit brought by Texas challenging President Obama’s deferred action. What does this mean for Dreamers and undocumented civilians? The injunction will be put on a temporary block on Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of American’s and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA). DACA and DAPA were created to allow temporary reprieves to undocumented children and parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders. People are encouraged to save up for application fees, collect necessary documents and they should be ready to apply when the block is lifted. As a documented student with undocumented family members, how can my relatives gain protection from deportation with DACA or DAPA?
1. What are DACA and DAPA?
DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In 2012, President Barack Obama created legislation to certain people who came to the United States as minors under the age of 31 to be considered of deferred action, the ability to seek protection from deportation on a two year – subject to renewal. This also allows the ability to work, but does not provide a legal status. As for DAPA, this gives parents who have a U.S. child the ability to obtain work authorization for a period of three years and the ability to renewal their status. Families find this legislation as a sign of hope to feel safe from law enforcement, and to survive by working with legal documents. There is a risk of parents and children forced to return to their home country because of illegal status.
2. Who is eligible for DACA and DAPA?
Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
Came to the United States before 16
Resident of the U.S. since 2007
No criminal background
Currently attending school; has obtained a high school diploma or GED
No conviction for a felony or more than three misdemeanors; do not pose a threat to national security or public safety
Is a parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
Has lived in the United States since July 2010
Must not have any lawful immigration status since November 2014:
Must have entered the U.S. without papers or, if you entered lawfully, your legal status must expire before November 20, 2013; and
Must not have a legal status at the time you apply
No conviction of criminal offenses, including any felonies or misdemeanors
3. How to Apply?
According to the United States Citizenship of Immigration Services, they’re unable to accept any applications due an injunction. However, they encourage others to collect all proper documents and gather application fees as soon as there is a decision in the ruling.
Due to a federal district court in Texas putting a temporary order that puts both programs on hold you cannot apply yet.
However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are allowing individuals to submit request or renewals of DACA/DAPA
Bring proof of Identity, birth certificate, school or military photo ID, any us government immigration photo.
Proof of immigration status
Proof of residency in the U.S.
Proof of student status at the time of requesting DACA
4. The Process
Since a Texas district court put a temporary hold on the legislation, it’ll be very tough to have an application fulfillment.
File updated forms
USCIS will reject if you fail to submit forms and pay the application fee of $465
Mail forms to USCIS
Visit and Application Support Center for biometric services
Check your status online
How long can continued undocumented students who continue to strive in their education wait for the injunction to be overruled in order for students and parents to feel safe in the country they now call home?
It’s unfair for people who have made contributions to the U.S. to be oppressed and not given the chance to create a better life for themselves. An injunction, a court order, a temporary hold is being allowed to stop from innocent people obtaining to continue to go to school and get better jobs or create businesses.
5. DACA and DAPA benefits
Undocumented students who are protected by DACA will have the privilege of obtaining higher education, obtaining employment with no fear or stress deportation. Students will also be eligible to apply for Free Application Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), making them eligible for Pell grants and to pay for in state tuition.
This will make financial obligations easier for students. As a student I know paying for in state tuition with Pell grant is great! I know it’s helpful and every other students striving to continue high education for themselves and family should be given the privilege the same as myself.
Adults who have residency in the U.S. who have citizen children, but with no legal status should also have the privilege of working without worrying about being taken away from their families. Given work permits will allow families to come out of poverty, and help obtain health insurance and prepare for retirement.