Agatha Pacheco

‘My Dreams Are in Limbo’: A Seattle Dreamer Grapples With Her Future

While I am not defined by DACA, much of what defines me is thanks to the Obama-era program.

The day after election night I did what I do every morning: I woke up and took the light rail to school. But the light rail felt different that day. It was dead silent and perhaps somewhere someone heard the whimpers I was trying to contain deep in my throat.

Tuesday felt a lot like that. Except instead of being on the light rail I was in San Francisco driving full speed ahead toward Seattle, toward home, through a thick fog of wildfire smoke. The world around me was on fire. Because finally after months of anxiously awaiting a verdict on the future of the DACA program, my nightmare came true and my dreams are in limbo.

While I am not defined by DACA, much of what defines me is thanks to the Obama-era program. Without DACA I would not have had the financial stability to attend the University of Washington, where I have dedicated myself to becoming a journalist. I would not have learned how to toss pizza at Pagliacci’s, I would have never fished salmon in Bristol Bay, and most importantly I would have never had the courage to make those dreams a reality.

As a journalist, I’ve pursued the stories of undocumented youth, because I know what it’s like to feel out of place and to be represented by a number that’s tossed around by the political pundits who were lucky enough to be born on the right side of the border. But 800,000 of us are struggling with uncertainty, and facing reality is hard when you’re not sure what to expect.

How will I continue writing about the city I’ve called home since I was 3? How will I make a living? Will I ever see the peach sky of Bristol Bay’s never ending sunsets again? What will I do if I get deported? What of my family?

These thoughts and questions exhaust me. I’ve spent so much of my time, my life, trying to figure these things out, but for a moment DACA put my worries to rest. The program gave me hope that not all was lost.

But today I am tired. I am tired of trying to prove myself productive enough, smart enough, human enough. And yet I will continue moving forward because that’s all I’ve ever seen the immigrants in my life do. Siguele chambeando. Keep working.

It reminds me of something my captain told me after a hard day at sea. “don’t stress Agatha, skill comes with time, but you’re a hard worker and you can’t teach that,” he said.

That single comment led me to confess my status to my captain. I was the first DACA person he had ever met and there I was, a 5’1” girl on his boat in the middle of Bristol Bay working her ass off for a glimpse of the world.

Now, with the news that DACA, the status that gave me the opportunity to get an education, become a published writer, and fish one of the world’s most productive fisheries, will be terminated, I feel more uncomfortable than I ever did fishing on that boat, battered around by rough winds and choppy waves.

In six months, DACA will be done and I will no longer be protected from deportation. In nine months, I will have graduated from UW with a double major in political science and journalism, but no work permit to apply them.

I am so used to this feeling of illegitimacy that I am neither mad or sad. I am simply tired. More tired than any amount of time spent working at sea.

As immigrants, we do not have the courage to show weakness, only the will to continue to work for the life we’ve built here. Yes, my status will be taken away from me, but I’ve been here before. I will return to the circumstance that all non-Dreamer undocumented immigrants find themselves in.

There is nowhere I’d rather face this reality than here, in Seattle. We will survive as long as Seattle continues to come together like they did at El Centro de la Raza Tuesday afternoon. Rally not only for the Dreamers, but the 11 million undocumented immigrants we call our moms, dads, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings, and friends. Without them we would not be who we are to begin with, just like I wouldn’t be who I am without Seattle.

news@seattleweekly.com


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

t
Smith, Basler running for District 9 Congress seat

Republican challenger takes on Democrat incumbent.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

File photo
State Supreme Court strikes down $30 car-tab initiative

Justices unanimously agreed that voter-approved Initiative 976 is unconstitutional.

t
Kent girl, 12, dies trying to help her mother during seizure in car

Miranda Bhattacharyya ’always put the well-being of others before herself,’ family says

Hilary Franz (left) and Sue Kuehl Pederson
Wildfires, forest health are key issues in race to lead DNR

Republican Sue Kuehl Pederson is challenging incumbent Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz.

power grid electricity power lines blackouts PG&E (Shutterstock)
State extends moratorium on some electric, gas shutoffs

Investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in WA can’t disconnect customers through April.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
State still sifting through thousands of unemployment claims

The recent Lost Wages Assistance program pumped an extra $625 million to Washington’s unemployed.

Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee (left) and Republican challenger Loren Culp during Wednesday's debate. (TVW) 20201007
Inslee, Culp joust on COVID, climate, crime in feisty debate

In their only televised match-up, the two gubernatorial candidates differed on pretty much everything.

Gov. Jay Inslee during his Oct. 6 news conference. (Screenshot)
Gov. Inslee loosens rules for bars, libraries and movie theaters

New rules come as coronavirus cases are on the rise statewide.

This white SUV was stolen about 15 minutes before the Oct. 6 shooting incident. Courtesy of Trooper Rick Johnson
Man in stolen SUV shot and killed by pursuing driver in Auburn

Someone in a vehicle that was chasing an SUV on an on-ramp… Continue reading

Jay Inslee (left) and Loren Culp
Inslee, Culp will meet in only televised debate Wednesday

The two candidates will answer questions for an hour but they will not be on stage together.

Cecil Lacy Jr. (Family photo)
Court: New trial in case of man who told police ‘Can’t breathe’

Cecil Lacy Jr. of Tulalip died in 2015 while in police custody.