SUCCESS STORY

Oscar Cornejo Casares

October 21, 2022   |   Author: Oscar Cornejo Casares, Client of HACES

"My successes are the direct product of communal investment, which inform my own politics and practice to center and amplify the undocumented voices for social and political change. "

My name is Oscar Cornejo Casares. I was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, and have lived in the Waukegan area since my family arrived in 2000. In 2017, I earned my Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College in Sociology and Native American Studies. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Northwestern University and a Law & Social Science Doctoral Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. I am a sociologist of law, race, and immigration researching the everyday lives of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. I am a filmmaker, undocumented scholar-activist, and an aspiring professor. Through the support of my family, college-access organizations, foundations, mentors, teachers, friends, professors, and countless community members, I have been to pursue my life aspirations. My successes are the direct product of communal investment, which informs my own politics and practice to center and amplify the undocumented voices for social and political change.

My successes are also experienced a favorable set of historical circumstances. An extraordinary alignment of life events manifested in 2012: I turned 18, applied for the newly established Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and got accepted into college. Earlier in the year, I received a call from a mentor in the Schuler Scholar Program about a new policy created by President Obama that would provide work authorization and protection for deportation for certain individuals, like myself, who migrated to the U.S. as children. Now, 10 years later, DACA has been a consequential force in my life.

DACA has produced a sense of legality that provides stability to the uncertainty and precarity of our undocumented status. We experience a taste of the freedom of movement; we can potentially access work opportunities previously closed to us, and we can feel a sense of legibility where previously we felt invisible to others. Without DACA, I would not be able to practice my degrees. This reality has become increasingly possible given the recent judicial decisions against DACA. While DACA is important, the scope of the program is limited, and the state excludes many undocumented immigrants. Our lives and program continue to live in limbo; our futures are still revocable. We must continue to organize for all undocumented immigrants.

 

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