To honor DACA’s fifth anniversary, the ACLU of Illinois has launched a storytelling project featuring DACA recipients. We hope that by telling these stories, we give agency to more people to tell their own story and challenge the harmful rhetoric coming from the Trump Administration. Here is one story:

JULIO

My name is Julio Cesar Reyes. Back home in Zacatecas, Estancia de Animas, Villa Gonzalez, Mexico; I lived in a small masonry home with very limited exposure to architecture and very few construction opportunities. In 2001, when I was 6 years old, my life changed completely. My mother, my three siblings, and I migrated to the city of Chicago. My brother and I were separated from my mother for about two weeks. The Coyote told us that my mother was going to be on the other side waiting for us. I remember being in a home with other children, where we played ball in the courtyard.

Currently, I am a third-year undergraduate candidate and soccer athlete at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) pursuing a degree in Architecture and Construction Management. Living in such a diverse community of aspiring architects and working with them in a fast-paced environment at Crown Hall, IIT is a value of mine. Being born in Zacatecas and then raised in Chicago has not been easy, especially since I am one of the millions of undocumented students living in the United States in the pursuit of a better life for myself, my family, and my immigrant community.

I aspire to go to the world's best graduate institutions to earn a Master's of Business degree. Currently, I am doing a self-independent project in the heart of Pilsen called “En Mi Cuadra Pilsen La Cultura Vive”. I personally do not consider myself a DREAMER. I think that my parents once had a dream to come to the USA for a better life - and they made that dream a reality. I do not think I am still dreaming. I think opportunities are out there and it is up to us to take those opportunities and prove ourselves. I owe it to my parents, the original DREAMERS.