This post was written by E. and S., two DACA-mented students in our GDS program. (To protect their privacy, we’re not including their full names.)
Today is a day worth celebrating. Nearly 250 DACA-status students have spent the last four days at Red Ventures’ Charlotte headquarters, participating in our seventh-annual Golden Door Summit. Together, they’ve spent time networking with RV leaders, attending workshops (on topics ranging from Legal Rights to Grad School Prep), enjoying all-you-can-eat BBQ for a good cause, and generally learning a TON at one of the largest celebrations of DACA-status college students in the country.
This year’s theme is “Hope Triumphs.” In keeping with this theme, two of our own DACA-mented GDS students are bringing awareness to what it really means to have DACA status in the United States. We hope this post acts as a catalyst for more inclusive conversations – and that the facts below help us all speak with more intention and empathy.
What is Golden Door Scholars?
In 2013, Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias launched a private scholarship program called Golden Door Scholars. It started by providing 13 high-achieving, DACA-status students with full scholarships to some of the most prestigious schools in the United States and mentors to help them through the transition. Six years later, we’ve supported 360 scholars – some of whom are PhD candidates at top schools like Duke, or have graduated to become difference-makers in Silicon Valley, or – you get the idea.
Golden Door Scholars are Dreamers. We are hard-working, hopeful over-achievers. We are students, we are coworkers. We are recipients of DACA, and we’d like to share a little more about what that means. We believe the more informed we are, the better allies we can become.
What is DACA?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a policy initiated in 2012 by President Obama. It allowed those of us who were brought to this country as children to apply for deferred protection from deportation and to receive work permits if we met certain requirements.
DACA gave us a way to finally gain a legal presence in the US – which for many of us is the only place we have ever called home.
However, while DACA enabled us to do very basic things like obtain a driver’s license and have a work permit, it is not a pathway towards a lawful permanent residency or citizenship.
We are in legal limbo.
9 Things To Know About DACA & Dreamers
1. We pay taxes.
DACA recipients are given a temporary social security number and thus are obligated to pay taxes like any US citizen. (Undocumented immigrants who do not qualify for DACA also pay taxes using an ITIN number provided by the IRS.)
2. Red Ventures employs several DACA-mented people who were not Golden Door Scholars.
There’s no such thing as “looking like an immigrant.” You may interact with undocumented people on a regular basis without ever realizing it.
3. We are not eligible for many tax-funded services such as housing, food, healthcare, social security benefits, in-state tuition, and federal student aid.
In many states, undocumented students pay up to 4x the regular in-state tuition and are ineligible for many scholarships, meaning higher education is often not an option.
4. We are not all Latinx.
And again, there is no such thing as “looking like an immigrant.” In fact, Red Ventures currently supports DACA recipients from all over the world – including South America, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia.
5. We do not have legal status or a pathway to citizenship.
Under DACA, we acquired a legal presence – which is different from a legal status. Essentially, we are renewing a temporary permit to live and work in the U.S. every 2 years.
6. We are unable to leave/re-enter the country.
We are protected from deportations, but we cannot freely cross borders. Many of us have never traveled outside of the US, and many of us have never met our extended families.
7. We’re not all college-aged.
Of course our Golden Door Scholars are all students, but the average age of DACA recipients is actually 25 – and the full range is between 16-37.
8. It’s expensive.
The DACA renewal application is $495 – not including legal fees. It must be renewed every 2 years, which requires extra saving and financial planning for many of us.
9. We all have unique stories, and each of our narratives is authentically our own.
We hope to share more of our stories and continue to cultivate a community of inclusion and discussion at Red Ventures – and beyond.
Want to learn more about DACA and the Golden Door Scholars program? Get started with these links: