Undocumented in 2017: A student protected by DACA

Undocumented in 2017: A college student protected under DACA

Evangelina Sanchez came to the United States when she was seven years old. Now she’s a student at California State East Bay, thanks to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order from President Barack Obama’s administration.

DACA allows undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. prior to age 16 to go to college and acquire a two-year renewable work permit. It also temporarily protects them against deportation. DACA is just one of Obama’s orders that President Donald Trump threatened to overturn before taking office.  That threat alone has changed things for Sanchez’s family. 

A couple days after the presidential election, Sanchez’s mother was turned away when she tried to sign up Evangelina’s younger siblings for DACA. Since Trump’s election and inauguration, immigration lawyers and advocates have advised people to hold off on signing up for DACA. Lead attorney Eleonore Zwinger at the International Institute East Bay said applicants list their home addresses on DACA paperwork, so if Trump decides to repeal it, the government could readily locate those applicants.

Sanchez has an 8-year-old sister who was born in the U.S. She is worried that if DACA is repealed and the government decides to deport her undocumented parents, siblings and herself, no one would be able to take care of her little sister, who is a U.S. citizen.

Zwinger also said DACA is not the best protection against deportation, because it’s not permanent. Recipients must renew it every two years to be safe from deportation, and it is not a clear path to permanent residency or citizenship. 

Sanchez studies political science and ethnic studies at Cal State. She plans to go to law school and become a civil rights attorney.

Video recorded by Pablo De La Hoya, Yesica Prado, Grace Oyenubi. Text and video editing by Rachel Loyd.

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