Bambadjan Bamba 
By Mwabi Kaira

"The Sunday before the announcement, the President called a national day of prayer for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. So I posted on social media, “here’s one thing we can agree on.” Then a friend hit me up and said, ‘what are you agreeing with him for? He wants to cancel DACA!’ I thought, no way. Then sure enough, the following week they announced the cancellation. My heart sank. It was the same hopelessness that I felt before I got DACA. I looked at my daughter and I knew I had to do something." -Bambadjan Bamba

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For Bamba, who was brought to America as a child by his parents who were fleeing political persecution, and didn’t discover that he was undocumented until college when he was applying for financial aid, the American Dream is more than just a slogan. In America, he discovered the English language through his love of hip hop, African Americans and the way they have your back no questions asked, and the ultimate prize of becoming a Hollywood actor. Bamba has appeared in multiple TV shows and will play in the highly anticipated Black Panther film. In America, he also met his wife and welcomed a little girl. America is Bamba's home, and now it might be taken away if Congress can't pass a law.

Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, aka DACA, enacted in 2012, immigrants who entered the U.S. as children have been able to receive renewable two-year deferred action from deportation so that they can work or go to school. For a while it looked like the over 700,000 ‘Dreamers,’ as they are called, might actually have a pathway to citizenship. But with this current administration, it doesn’t seem likely. Every day 122 Dreamers lose their status; 11,000 dreamers have lost their status already. Democrats are fighting to save DACA by threatening to shut down the government on December 22nd, and there are multiple DACA replacement bills being introduced to Congress. If a bill passes before the March 5 deadline, qualified applicants will be able to remain in the US legally.

But nothing is certain, and Bamba couldn’t just sit around in limbo, waiting for something to happen.
“I was always embarrassed by my status and was hiding behind fear. Fear of getting deported, fear of career suicide, but after having my daughter I knew that I had to step out and face it head on. I never want to be separated from my family," says Bamba.
Bambadjan Bamba with his family in LA via Define American
So he teamed up with Define American, an organization that helps immigrants share their story, and went public about his DACA status. It's definitely a risky move, some have called him crazy. He hopes that his position as a Hollywood actor can help bring awareness to the issue, and put a face to DACA. He's also urging Hollywood to stand with him. He says,
“There are so many immigrants working in Hollywood behind the scenes and in front of the camera and we need them to stand with us. We need the studio heads to stand with us.”
Bamba being supported by 5th St. Studios Casting in LA
So far, support has been overwhelming from Bamba’s peers including actors Mark Ruffalo, Alyssa Milano and the creator of NBC’s ‘The Good Place,’ where Bamba is a recurring character. He's also shared his story with the LA Times, CNN, and NPR. 

Bamba on the set of 'The Good Place'
The media will have you thinking DACA is just a Mexican issue, but there are an estimated 3.7 million foreign-born black immigrants who aren't citizens, and many are facing deportation if a bill isn't passed. Call your representative. Take a picture and #standwithBamba #standwithdaca #defenddaca #dreamactnow and sign the petition here!

 Will you take a stand for DACA?

Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her athttp://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/
America Ferrera in NBC'S 'Superstore'
By Mwabi Kaira


I remember first seeing the commercials for NBC’s 'Superstore,' a comedy starring America Ferrera about a superstore, and thinking that it would never work. The joke was on me, I laughed through the multiple episodes I binged.  There was an episode where Mateo, the Filipino immigrant finds out quite by accident that he is undocumented.  The superstore, Cloud 9, is celebrating The Olympics and Mateo proudly displays his Philippines lapel pin to which his boss Glenn says he should be loyal to the United States.  



As the day goes on, Glenn keeps trying to show Matteo all the American things he wouldn’t be able to find in Manilla.  Jonah, another coworker, tries to cover for Glenn and how he means well and ends up asking Matteo if he is an American citizen.  Matteo takes offense because Jonah is asking simply because he is Asian. Jonah explains that he has heard about Parents bringing their children to the United States and not even telling them that they are undocumented.  Matteo says he has plenty of documentation and even remembers going to the “Green Card store” with his Grandmother and getting his documentation.  Jonah unlike many Americans, seems to know a little about the immigration process and makes an unsure face which prompts Matteo to call his Grandmother and ask.  He only learns the truth from this conversation.  


This is not an unlikely scenario. In fact, this episode was based on the real-life story of Jose Antonio Vargas who left the Philippines at age 12 to live with his Grandparents in California.  His Grandparents were naturalized US citizens but he was not.  He attended Middle School and High School and did not learn about his immigration status until he was 16 applying for his driver’s license.  The DMV clerk suggested his papers were not legitimate and he learned the truth.


President Barack Obama introduced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012 after the failure of the DREAM Act, a legislative attempt to provide dreamers with a path to citizenship.   The reasoning was always to protect children who are not to blame and have made lives for themselves in the US and consider it their only home.  DACA is the protection of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, otherwise known as Dreamers.  To be eligible, applicants had to have arrived in the US before age 16 and have lived in the US since June 15, 2007. They could not have been older than 30 when the Department of Homeland Security enacted the policy in 2012. Among the accepted applicants, Mexico is by far the biggest country of origin, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.  To date almost 800,000 have been approved for the program with an overwhelming acceptance from Mexico.


Qualifying immigrant youths had to meet very strict criteria: They were required to have been enrolled in high school, have a high school diploma or equivalent, or have been an honorably discharged military veteran.  Approval means being legally able to work in the US, go to school and to live without the fear of deportation.


During a press conference Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the program would be rescinded.  The administration’s decision to end DACA means that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services won’t consider new applications, but will allow anyone who has a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018, to apply for a two-year renewal by October 5.


The rescinding of DACA by the Trump administration was met with outcry and disapproval by the public because it appears to be targeting the largest number of its recipients who are Mexicans.  These approved recipients are law abiding and went through the Homeland Security process and paid the required fees as requested.  To punish them for something they were approved for makes very little sense.  And to only say that they found the program unconstitutional with no supporting evidence makes even less sense.  According to the Associated Press, fifteen states and the District of Columbia sued the U.S. government on Wednesday to block President Donald Trump's plan to end protection against deportation for young immigrants, saying it was motivated by prejudice against Mexicans.


Trump has been very vocal about building a wall along the Mexican border to keep Mexicans out.  During his campaign he painted Mexicans as rapists and very dangerous. He also constantly repeats this rhetoric of Mexicans taking Americans jobs, which is not true. Just last month The Washington Post published an article about a factory in rural Wisconsin turning to robots due to 132 job openings and an unreliable American workforce.  Surely if Mexicans were taking jobs they would have filled these openings.  His recent pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio convicted for unlawfully profiling Latino's in Arizona is just another example of Trump’s displeasure with brown people.  He keeps playing into fear tactics and sadly Americans are none the wiser and just go with these lies instead of doing their own research and finding the facts.  DACA is just the latest in a list of this administration's war against its number one target – Mexico.


Do you think the DACA decision is a target against Mexicans? 

Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/