When Asael was in high school when he found out he was undocumented. Devastated, he felt he “had no future” and he dropped out of school after struggling with his grades. But his life changed following the implementation of DACA, because it finally meant he “had a future worth fighting for.” And, much needed peace of mind.
Today, Asael is a 4.0 college student, mentors middle school students, helps out at a homeless shelter, and devotes his time to assisting disadvantaged families in his community, all the while working part-time.
Asael, along with Father Rey, Yuri, Valentina, and over 740,000 undocumented youth, remind us that revoking DACA would not only upend their lives, but the many community members who depend on them as well.
Here’s the transcript from Sen. Durbin’s speech:
Asael Reyes was a 5-year-old boy when his family brought him to the United States from Mexico. Asael grew up on the North Side of Chicago. Asael was a bright child, but when he learned that he was undocumented his life took a downturn. Asael was failing his classes and he dropped out of high school for six months. Asael said, “I felt that because of my status, I had no future. As a result, my grades and attendance plummeted and I struggled to do anything productive”
But then, in 2012, President Obama announced DACA, and everything changed for Asael. Here is how Asael explained it: “DACA meant that I had a future worth fighting for, and because of that I returned to school and reignited my passion for studying. Because of DACA, I want to do whatever I can to contribute to my country.
In his senior year in high school, Asael turned his life around. He improved his grades and was very active in his community. He was head of his school’s fundraising committee and he volunteered with a mentoring program. He also worked full-time to support himself and his family.
Today, Asael is in his sophomore year in the Honors College at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a double major in psychology and political science, and he has a perfect 4.0 grade point average. He is involved with student government and is a leader in a recreational bike club called College of Cycling. Every week he delivers food from the college dining halls on bike to a local homeless shelter.
This effort has inspired other student groups to start similar initiatives to help the homeless. He also mentors middle-school students and he is the youngest board member of the Erie Neighborhood House, a social service agency that provides assistance to low-income families in Chicago. In addition to all of this, Asael works part-time as a security guard at local events like Cubs baseball games and Bears football games.
Asael dreams of working in Chicago’s city government. He says, “I have a passion for my city, and I feel an obligation to do whatever I can to make it great by serving its communities.”
DACA gave Asael the hope he needed to turn his life around. And now he wants to give back to the city — and the country — that he loves. But if DACA is eliminated, Asael will lose his hope and his legal status and he could be deported back to Mexico, a country where he hasn’t lived since she was 5 years old.