Five Dreamers spokes about their experiences before and after DACA at a UC San Diego panel. / Photo by Michelle Fredricks

The clock is ticking for participants of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

On Sept. 5, the Trump administration announced it would be ending the program that shields nearly 800,000 people who were brought into the country illegally as children.

President Donald Trump gave Congress until March 5, 2018, to come up with a legislative solution to fix DACA (though he’s expressed willingness to extend that deadline).

Another deadline looms before that: Democrats are threatening a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t secure protections for young, undocumented immigrants by Dec. 22, according to the New York Times.

Last week, the University of California San Diego brought a group of DACA recipients to the table to discuss the future.

The panel was led by Dulce Garcia, a local DACA recipient and attorney who is one of several Dreamers suing the Trump administration over rescinding the program.

Some of the recipients, like UC San Diego student Luis Cruz Cardoso, have always known they were undocumented.

Cardoso said he grew up with an understanding to “do well, but not too well so people don’t notice you” and understood since kindergarten how he was different, recalling an incident on a school trip to the library, where he couldn’t get a library card like other students. He grew up with imposter syndrome, he said.

Another DACA recipient on the panel, Paris Salgado, a Harvard graduate and law student at UC Irvine, said he didn’t realize he was undocumented until he turned 16 and couldn’t get a driver’s license.

“I thought I could change the world, but I was undocumented,” Salgado said. He had wanted to be president, he said.

Salgado recounted his years at one of the best universities in the country, during which he couldn’t get summer internships like his classmates, and said a diploma that is valuable for so many was initially meaningless for him.

Salgado said he worked as a painter after finishing college because he didn’t have a work permit. DACA allowed him more. He’s now in law school to try to help immigrants like himself.

But none of the Dreamers on the panel, with the exception of Garcia, had much hope that they would be granted protection from deportation or a pathway to legal residence under the current administration and Congress.

“I anticipate in a couple of months, our entire worlds are going to collapse,” Salgado said.

Garcia, though, said DACA has given her the ability to speak out for the first time in 30 years. That’s why she is suing the administration and organized a protest outside of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office after the panel that day.

Long-time immigration reporter Julia Preston, formerly of the New York Times and who now reports for the Marshall Project, spoke at the event about how we got to this key moment for Dreamers.

Preston wrote a story in September, “How the Dreamers Learned to Play Politics,” that is a fascinating history of Dreamer activism leading up to Trump’s decision to cancel DACA.

More Border News

Maya Srikrishnan

Maya was Voice of San Diego’s Associate Editor of Civic Education. She reported on marginalized communities in San Diego and oversees Voice’s explanatory...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.