We Spoke To Some DACA Recipients About Their Uncertain Future. Here’s What They Said
On Tuesday, President Trump and his administration announced via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that they are rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) citing rule and law. The program was put forth in an executive order by President Obama on June 15, 2012. It allowed for people brought to the U.S. as minors without legal documentation to get work permits and driver’s licenses, and shielded them from deportation as long as they did not commit any felonies. Information on the status of the rescission can be found here.
Mitú went to the National DACA Mobilization Day in downtown Los Angeles and spoke with some Dreamers about what this decision means to them.
Maribel Serrano, Dreamer and filmmaker
“DACA gave me the permission to be the American on the outside that I’ve always been on the inside. It allowed me to work legally and to pursue passions that I have so I no longer have to work in the service industry,” Serrano says. “I no longer felt like I couldn’t sleep some days because I was afraid of deportation and it helped me to become more vocal and really tell my story and to get the heavy, heavy burden off my chest. At one point, before DACA, we were nonexistent. We had to live with this every single day. After DACA, we were able to tell everyone our stories, be open and just tell our truths. And that’s really all we’ve been doing is telling our truths.”
Edwin Soto Saucedo, Dreamer and law student
“I’m one of the primary incomes for my household. I have a single parent and we live in a lower privileged neighborhood, so taking away my job and everything that we’ve gotten used to for the past five years, we can’t even think about what might happen,” Saucedo says. “Obviously, I’m going to have to find another job that is paying under the minimum wage and just going back so much from what we are already used to. It impacts me and my little sisters. They know that I am undocumented, and trying to explain to a 5 and 9-year-old what the affects are and what DACA has done for me and what might happen because of it being rescinded is powerful. There are really no words to express other than it’s a major setback for my family, my community, my people and myself. My educational aspirations are also impacted. I fund my own education so it’s a lot.”
Nicholas Carrillo, ally
“I’ve have a few friends [on DACA] who’ve gone to college. I’m about to graduate from Cal State LA and I’ve been able to meet people that wouldn’t be in this country if it wasn’t for DACA. I wouldn’t have been able to grow alongside them and for them to teach me the lessons that they taught me if it wasn’t for that program,” Carrillo says. “I have friends that will have to go back into the shadows and family members who are afraid of losing the ability to work in this country and the ability to stay here. It’s devastating to be able to hold on to a little bit of hope and then for them to take [DACA] away. [Taking away] their ability to work, study and just have a family here, especially when all you’ve ever know is this country, is disgusting.”
Kim Mireno, ally
“I just think about all of that effort we put in to making our community better and it’s taken away just like that. I love my community. I love El Sereno. I love all the students of Roosevelt, Garfield, East LA, Boyle Heights [high schools]. I do this for them, and I just get so worried thinking about what their future is going to look like. They put so much into this country. They deserve to be here. My nephew deserves to see a better world where it doesn’t matter what status you have. You have an equal opportunity to pursue your dreams,” Mireno says. “They are the bravest people I know. I can’t even say that I have an ounce of the courage that they have. I look to them. They are my leaders.”
Justino Mora, Dreamer and co-founder of Undocumedia
“I’m undocumented, unafraid and unapologetic because I need to be. I have lost fear of this administration, of these white supremacists, because I understand that my community, that people power, is exactly what brings about change. We’ve seen this throughout history. The African-American community. The Civil Rights movement. The API community. Women fighting for the right to vote. We know that change is possible and that people power is greater than the people in power,” Mora says.
“My message to Congress is to get their act together. The Dream Act has been introduced several times. For more than 15 years, we’ve been fighting for the Dream Act or for comprehensive immigration reform,” he adds. “If they really mean what they say, they should pass it immediately. If they actually mean what they say about supporting undocumented youths, they should pass it tomorrow. That’s exactly what they should be doing, and they should pass other legislation to help the rest of the undocumented community come out of the shadows.”
Lauren Gonzales, ally
“I am documented but I see it affect everyone around me and I want them to see that I stand in solidarity with them, especially my boyfriend who is undocumented. So, I just want them to know that it’s really hard news. If this happens, they won’t be able to do a lot of what we’re able to do as citizens,” Gonzales says. “For my boyfriend, DACA made it so he was able to work. He was able to get his driver’s license. God forbid he ever gets detained to be deported. It would delay that. It’s helped him a lot with him supporting his family. I’ve seen it really help them because he really holds up his family and I’ve seen that.”
Yesenia Zavala, Dreamer and college student
“I’m very devastated because I know my parents sacrificed a lot to bring me to the United States. I was only a year old. I had no say in coming and to know that a man can just take all of my hopes and dreams away is just devastating,” Zavala says. “Because of DACA, I was able to get a job and go to school. I’m a full-time worker and a full-time student and with that I’m able to help my parents. I was able to get my own car. I have big dreams and hopes for myself and if that’s taken away, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Marisol Hernandez, Dreamer and educator
“I heard on the announcement that I am taking somebody’s job and I’m asking Trump, ‘Whose job am I taking?’ In my field, we’re short staffed and those kids need me. Whose job am I stealing? If you’re going to get somebody’s job, it’s because they didn’t deserve it. You get the job, fair and square. We’re not stealing anybody’s job and we’re not criminals. We’re teachers; we’re doctors. We’re not criminals,” Hernandez, an early education teacher assistant and teaching student, says.
“Please help us. Please. We’re humans, we’re not animals,” Hernandez adds as a plea to Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017. “They define us as ‘illegals’ and that’s a wrong term because calling us ‘illegals’ dehumanizes us. Please. We’re human. We want a better life. Help us.”