BY GLORIA RIVERA
Photo courtesy of the Chaparral. Hilda Martinez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient shares her story to the Chaparral about her concerns for the future.
Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrival also known as DACA, was a federal program created in 2012 under President Barack Obama. DACA allows people who were brought to the United States as children a temporary right to live, study and work in the U.S. This program allows recipients to renew their permits every two years and provides protection from deportation. DACA recipients use their opportunities to have similar rights to American citizens.“DACA has been a great help, it opened doors to endless possibilities, and not just for me but for many others.”
On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Session announced that the Trump administration would terminate DACA but the announcement put more than 800,000 people feeling uncertain about their future. College of the Desert currently hosts 346 students who are DACA recipients, according to Public Relations Officer, James Meier.
As an example of the young people facing uncertainty, COD student Hilda Martinez arrived to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico when she was just eight months old. She is a DACA recipient and is currently majoring in Liberal Arts, aspiring to be a registered nurse. Martinez was born in Mexico but like many other recipients the United States has been her only home, now faced with the reality that it could all be taken away. For Martinez, deportation to Mexico means being sent back to a country that was never really home. “I do not know much about my birthplace traditions, food or customs,” she said, “my family and friends are here. I am who I am today because of this country.”
In 2013, while Martinez was still in high school, she applied and qualified for DACA. “ I felt like I was given an opportunity to be successful,” Martinez adds. Participation in the program comes with a range of benefits according to the New York Times. “DACA has been a great help, it opened doors to endless possibilities, and not just for me but for many others,” said Martinez. This program allows people to pursue their goals, that they would not be able to follow under their original circumstances.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 76 percent of all DACA-eligible immigrants are currently in the labor force. A quarter of them go to college and work. About five percent have gone on to earn at least a bachelor’s degree. “ We are hard working students, our aspiration is to be successful and thrive without being judged or limited by where we were born,” said Martinez.
As the Trump administration works to terminate the program, young undocumented immigrants like Martinez are uneasy about the future. “ My biggest fear will be that all I have worked for will be for nothing, that I will never have the opportunity to become a nurse and help others.” Although, DACA is considered a benefit to dreamers it is only temporary.
With the decision, U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco granted a request by California and other states to stop the administration from ending DACA. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would resume accepting DACA renewal applications Jan. 13, 2018. According to the United We Dream.org, “This is another victory on the path to winning a permanent solution for millions of immigrant youth.”
Martinez believes people can help DACA recipients by spreading awareness about how the program helps and empowers children and young adults. Martinez wants people to understand that there are many misunderstandings regarding the program, but maybe the biggest one is that recipients of the program are asking for a free ride. Martinez hopes she never has to hide in the shadows or live in constant fear.
For more information about DACA visit, heretostay.unidos.org, www.thedream.us.