SAN ANTONIO – A Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient who is considering careers as a lawyer or author didn’t hesitate to talk about her hopes for DACA after President-elect Joe Biden takes office Jan. 20.
The Univerity of Texas at San Antonio student, who chose not to be identified to protect her undocumented parents, was only 18 months old when she was brought to the United States from her family’s home in Africa.
“As much as I expect (Biden) to fortify DACA again, at the end of the day, right now, it’s not going to be enough,” she said. “It just feels like that Band-Aid on that gunshot wound. I’m bleeding out.”
DACA temporarily protects recipients from being deported and has allowed them to study and work in the U.S., but their status must be renewed every two years.
The UTSA student and other DACA recipients around the country have felt the freedom that came after President Barack Obama signed the DACA executive order in 2012. However, they’ve also had the rug pulled out from under them.
“I was angry,” the UTSA student said, referring to the time when President Donald Trump tried to end the program.
The student said it felt “very tentative.”
“I always just feel so anxious all the time, like it’s always in the back of my mind,” she said.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court last year blocked attempts by the Trump administration to dismantle DACA, the student said the program is now more restrictive. She said she and other DACA recipients are hopeful the president-elect will fully restore the program.
A pathway to citizenship that Biden has endorsed is the only permanent solution, she said.
“I wholeheartedly believe that he would sign a bill. I can expect that from him,” the student said.
The student said she’s nervous about whether Congress will take up DACA amid a pandemic and other issues facing the country.
She said time is running out for her, and she’ll be looking for a job after she graduates. Yet, she said, employers hesitate or refuse to hire DACA recipients because of their temporary status without permanent residency.
“I can’t keep working minimum wage jobs if I’m trying to support my family and pay off my loans,” she said. “I just don’t know.”