Teaching Assistant Shares His DACA Story

This month the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments about DACA, otherwise known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a government policy that protects undocumented people from deportation. Author Michael Bugeja’s graduate teaching assistant, Hugo Bolaños, has a personal interest in the outcome and explains that below to U.S. students.

By Hugo Bolaños

As you all know, we have been covering some very key topics in Media Ethics that you will digest and continue to use far beyond your years here at Iowa State University. The background, philosophy and history that Dr. Michael Bugeja is presenting in class will help us understand issues of diversity, equity and inclusion on deeper levels that will inform us at the workplace.

Our lectures in “Bias and Diversity” are not only important, but also necessary. That said, I want to share my story, so that you are aware of how legal decisions, such as the impending one in the U.S. Supreme Court, affects someone that you know: your teaching assistant.

The Iowa State Daily did a story about me two years ago while I was an undergrad, about DACA, and how I live with it every day. Its title is, “Every day I’m terrified .”

Here is the video that accompanied that story.

DACA, or “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” is an executive order put in place by President Barack Obama in 2012. To be eligible, undocumented recipients typically were brought to the United States as children. This must have occurred before their 16th birthday and prior to June 2007. They must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and be currently in school, a high school graduate or be honorably discharged from the military. They must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security.

Currently, the program does not provide permanent lawful status or a path to citizenship, nor does it provide eligibility for federal welfare or student aid. DACA must be renewed every two years, with the renewal process evaluating all requirements to remain in the program.

As you may assume from reading this, I currently do have DACA status. Because I am employed at the Greenlee School, I fulfill a key DACA requirement. But I am still susceptible to changes in the law. That is why I am closely following the Supreme Court decision.

I am sharing my story here for another reason. In class, we have been discussing the 14th Amendment in Media Ethics, which reads:

14th Amendment: All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Those words are important to me. You may be a citizen of the United States and not fully appreciate your own privileges and immunities. This is why I decided to share my personal journey, which advances our class discussions and provides perspective for you.

I am not asking you to choose a political side as to the debate of so-called “dreamers.” That term has a history, too. The DREAM Act (or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) would provide a process to give people like me, who came to the United States as children, residency status. The bipartisan bill has been introduced several times in Congress, but continues to fail.

While I do not ask you to choose a political side, I do hope for one thing in my role as graduate teaching assistant: That my story will have perhaps touched your conscience through the ethical principle of empathy, which we also study in class, putting you in my situation so that you can understand DACA on a more personal level.

One thought on “Teaching Assistant Shares His DACA Story

  1. Muy buen tema, Hugo Bolaños.
    Primeramente Dios pronto pasen cambios sobre DACA y tu y todos las demás personas pueden disfrutar de su vida; y dejar de vivir con temor…


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