He did what many would not even dare try. Growing up all his life in the US, Daniel left his family behind and went to Mexico to create his own Mexican Dream.
The American Dream has become synonymous with success, wealth, white-picket fences, and abundance. Many believe that this is only achievable in the US because you earn dollars and not pesos or lempiras. But this belief beckons to question the limits of the American Dream.
When migrants go to the US they often feel like they’re stuck in "Una Jaula de Oro", "A Golden Cage". Not being able to visit their family members in their home countries for decades because they know their families rely on their remittances to survive, they continue on with the burden of missing funerals, graduations, and births.
Although many saw President Obama as a savior with the passage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, many forget that under his administration, 2.7 millions immigrants were deported. That’s one thousand deportations a day, more than all the other administrations combined. Many couldn’t continue putting their dreams on hold, waiting for congress to pass some hope of legislation, Daniel has paved the way for others in Mexico.
Daniel lived in the US from the time he was 4 years old in South Carolina, until he graduated high school. Knowing his undocumented status would prevent him from pursuing his dream, in 2006, when the youth-led immigrant movement had not taken force, Daniel began searching for opportunities in Mexico.
He was accepted at Tecnológico de Monterrey, the MIT or Yale of Mexico. In 2011, he received his bachelor’s in International Relations. While studying, he was constantly being contacted by undocumented high school students in the US, referred through his guidance counselor. He shared his experience with those who saw their future obscured in the country they grew up in. In light of this, he knew he was able to do more for them.
In 2011, he created Dream In Mexico A.C (Civil Association). His mission was to help others achieve their dreams of continuing higher education in Mexico. The first time I saw Daniel was in Dallas, Texas, at United We Dream’s National Congress in 2011. By this time, Daniel had been able to obtain a tourist visa. Daniel spoke in front of UWD’s 600 representatives from 25 states about educational opportunities in Mexico. Everyone listened without really listening. The attendees, undocumented youth along with allies were strategizing, many full of hope by Obama’s promises and did not want to leave the country they had been raised in.
Today, Daniel continues to create opportunities for deportees and returnees. Two weeks ago, Daniel organized the Dreamer Tour in Mexico, the first of its kind. He fundraised for months and was able to bring 10 returnees/deportees from 7 states to Guanajuato where they traveled to 3 cities; they traveled 115 miles together.
They shared their experiences and created manuals to helps others like them. Daniel Arenas on his organization: "We’re helping those that are returning to Mexico and those that are being deported to Mexico so that they can continue to accomplish their goals here in Mexico or other countries of the world, and continue with their life project." His organization has helped many by guiding them to university scholarships, offering grants to Dev-F, a programming school, and by sharing the manuals that he creates.
Although Daniel now has what many don’t, mobility, and is able to go to the US on a tourist visa, he is still separated from his family since they all still reside in the US, undocumented. With DACA’s future being uncertain, many are choosing to return to Mexico, while for others, it’s not a choice. Daniel was the first person to begin the Dream In Mexico movement and is changing the mindset and perception of many; En México También Hay Sueños.
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