These Brave Latinas Share their Life Changing Stories After DACA

After the Trump Administration announced the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) back in September, millions of young undocumented immigrants were affected. The decision to repeal DACA has impacted millions of young undocumented immigrants across the country. These young people, who were able to apply for a work permit, obtain a license, and explore options for a higher education under DACA, are now going back to living in fear of detention or deportation. As Congress tries to reach a decision to protect undocumented youth, many lives are being put on hold. The six-month extension ends on March 2018, but in the meantime, DREAMers risk being separated from their family and the country they consider home.

We've reached our Latina readers to share with us their story of being a DREAMER and how DACA has impacted their life. If you are a DACA recipient and would like to share your story on how DACA has helped you please email jenifer.calle@latina.com.

MORE: Everything You Need To Know About DREAMers

1. Maribel Serrano

"My name is Maribel. I am a DACA recipient and executive producer and subject of the upcoming documentary  Mi VIda Daca. Thanks to DACA I have been able and allowed to first and foremost, have peace of mind and feel like I can finally live a somewhat 'normal' life. I've been able to explore my true passion and apply for a job without the fear of being rejected for not having a valid social security number. I can travel extensively throughout the United States to places I dreamed of like New York, Boston, Key West Florida, St. Louis and many others. I'm able to work in the Financial District of downtown Los Angeles. I can express disagreements in a healthy way with my employers, family, and friends without the fear of being taunted about my status. I was able to obtain a driver's license and feel that I am following the law and driving with authorization and with that become visible in the eyes of my community and the government. I purchased a new vehicle after the program passed. I travel to my birthplace in Jalisco, Mexico after 25 years - an experience I can describe as magical, eye-opening and life-changing and answered many of the questions that come with not being documented, including not being fully aware of where you came from or why your family left. Traveling with a permit known as "advance parole" is no longer allowed since the rescission of DACA. I explored higher education options beyond my Bachelor's degree. I share my story freely knowing there are communities and people in government offices who see us, support us and are working towards the passage of a clean DREAM Act. I finally feel like I am accepted in my own home in the U.S and I live a life without the daily worry of not being documented."

2. Daniela Carolina

"DACA has been a tremendous help. It has been a relief that has allowed me to continue moving forward. For starters it allowed me to get my driver license and have a valid working permit and social security that allowed me to start working right after graduating high school. It has also provided me the opportunity to continue my education as well. Having DACA also allowed me to open my own business which is called Innovated Lab Designs and business that creates kits that allowed college student take online physics and astronomy classes with Rowan College at Burlington County. Not only that but it has allowed me to become a bigger advocate and expand my knowledge on what immigration is and how the system works around immigration and immigrants." More on Daniela's story here

3. Monserratt Alberto Urban

"Oh man what hasn’t DACA done for me!? Before DACA I had to lie about who I was. I could not open up to people like I do now. I lived in fear that if I made someone mad and they knew my situation they would use that against me. I was scared of falling in love because how was I gonna explain my situation to someone and would that change how they felt about me? This was also a fear I had with my friends. I missed out on high school trips, graduation trips, family trips, and studying abroad. But the one thing that I will always wonder is about my career as a professional dancer. I audition for companies and made it, but I could not travel the world with them. So I had to settle in my heart and know that I would just have to fulfill that dream here at home and make sure that those children who have the same the dream I had would make it. Before DACA I was living my life at 50% and now I am living it at 75%. I say this because no human being in my situation can say they are living at an equal 100% like the rest of legal or U.S. born Americans. When you are restricted of what you can or cannot do, that is not living your fullest life. Because of DACA I was able to get work legally and not be afraid that they would find out that my documents were fake. I can drive now and not be afraid that I will be stopped and deported. DACA helped me receive some financial aid which allowed me to take more university classes and not worry about having three part-time jobs to pay school out of my own pocket. After 7 years I will finally graduate with two BA’s; Dance and Communications with an emphasis in entertainment and tourism in the Spring of 2018. I am now applying for jobs as a multimedia journalist. It is a bittersweet accomplishment because in March of 2019 my DACA will expire and so the race has begun to at least fulfill this dream as a journalist for one year before it all has to go back to the way it was. I will not have a license to drive or a work permit to work. But I will definitely enjoy it until the last day. I thank DACA for allowing me to feel like I belong and that these past six years I was able to enjoy life as every American should."

4. Karla Godinez

"For me, DACA came right after I graduated from high school in 2012. I had mixed feelings when it came out, for one it felt like a blessing but at the same time, I knew it wasn't something permanent. 

DACA gave me the encouragement to continue my education after high school. I was able to graduate with a double major in Communications and Spanish in 2017. DACA allowed me to be able to work and fund my education. DACA gave me security, the security that I can be able to be part of society. DACA gave me empowerment to continue fighting [for a permanent solution] not only for my dreams but those of my family and community."

5. Kenia Garcia

"My name is Kenia Garcia. My parents brought me to this country when I was 6 years old. We came from Mexico and settled in Southern California. I am now 34 years old and have lived in California since I was 6. 

I was always aware of our immigration status. I can remember my parents talking about Mexico and our loved ones with nostalgia and sadness because we couldn’t go and visit. Whenever acquaintances or relatives asked why we couldn’t go to Mexico our answer was always the same, “no tenemos papeles.” (We don't have papers.)

I always excelled in school from elementary all the way to high school. I graduated with honors from high school in 2001. When I graduated I had been accepted to different universities including UCLA! Sadly I did not attend any of them because of my immigration status. 

DACA changed my life tremendously! I was able to finally obtain my driver's license in 2013. It is such a liberating feeling to be able to drive without the fear of being pulled over by the police and having my car impounded because I did not have a license. I experienced that at least once. 

I am currently working for the County of Riverside. I am so grateful that I have a job with full benefits. I was able to get this job because I have my work permit. I have continued my higher education at my local community college. I received my associate's degree in 2017. Thanks to DACA I have so many more opportunities and options in my life. Yet I am saddened by the decision of President Trump to end DACA. I know there are a lot of adults and teenagers that have benefited from DACA. I know that there are much more that could still qualify for the benefit of DACA. I hope that Congress will work on a progressive and comprehensive immigration reform in 2018 that will not only benefit DREAMERS but entire families as well."

6. Yamelin Jaquez

"The journey started at only four years old. Yes, I say journey because that is exactly what my life has been; me walking, carrying the pressure of society and politics on my back to an unknown destination. At four years old, I illegally entered the United States from the Dominican Republic. I don’t remember much about my native country; the United States is honestly the only home I’ve ever known. From there, I was disguised into American society; I went to school, I listened to American music, I watched football, and I ate McDonald’s. I was an American kid at heart.

It all started to change when the topic of college started to show up in my life. I entered High School knowing that I was probably going to have a different path from my peers. It was a fact that I sort of put in the back of my head and I didn’t give much thought to. I knew I was different, but I didn’t want my differences to bring me down and make me feel like I didn’t have a future. Above all, I am human first, and I have the right to dream like anyone else. DACA, I can say, helped me persevere and give me the hope and little push I needed to continue.

However, the one time I think reality hit me hard was junior year of high school. My school provides a free overseas trip to Europe every year to those who are well behaved and have good grades. Of course, I met all the qualifications and being DACA I had a chance to leave the country. Unfortunately, the trip was the same year of the 2016 elections. We waited anxiously for November to completely secure my spot on the trip, and then everything just collapsed the night that “he” got elected.

Yes, I have had opportunities like that ripped away from me. I know that this is who I am and I will always face challenges. But it doesn’t mean the journey stops. Today, I am halfway through my senior year, accepted to my first choice university, and fighting to help pass the Dream Act. Yes, I am not going on the overseas trip this year, but life is so long and more doors will open than those that will close. I am proud to be a Hispanic woman, DACA recipient, and coming from an urban city. This is who I am, this is who I will always be."