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Potential challenge on DACA takes center stage at Colorado State Capitol

DACA takes center stage at Colorado State Capitol
DACA takes center stage at Colorado State Capitol 02:30

There could be a challenge to the decade-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. It allows undocumented children to stay in the country without fear of deportation.

Colorado has seen immense impacts from the DACA program, with more than 18,000 recipients. That's why rallyers gathered on the Capitol's west steps in a grassroots effort on Wednesday evening in opposition.


Organizer Juan Gallegos, who is originally from Cuauhtémoc Chihuahua, Mexico, shared his intentions of the protest with CBS4's Mekialaya White. He says DACA helped him live his dream.

"I've been in this country since I was 12 years old," he said. "I was able to go to middle and high school and apply for the university of Nebraska. I was able to get a social security number and have a job. And I've been able to build a life, launch my own business. I am going to start hiring people as well."

Gallegos continued, "And we know that the circuit court is one step toward the US Supreme Court. We've seen that there are things that we've thought were settled in law, for instance Roe v Wade - court overturned that precedent. DACA has only been in place for 10 years, and I'm worried that it wouldn't stand a chance with the new Supreme Court."

Fellow DACA recipient Mayra Saldana Balvastro, who is also originally from Mexico, says she also feels it would be detrimental; she reflected on discrimination she faced from her younger years. "One of my first memories is when a grown man, talking to a little girl, he said what are you looking at you little immigrant? That stuck to me. I'm 27 so it's been 23 years."

Saldana Balvastro has a rare disease, uveitis, that caused her to progressively lose her vision. She says she was able to pursue a career in nursing because of DACA benefits.

"I've always wanted to be in the medical field and after losing my vision and hearing that I wouldn't be able to attend college Through a social security number, I was able to get some help."

Those in opposition argue that DACA was enacted without going through proper legal and administrative procedures, and that it financially harms states by allowing immigrants to remain in the country illegally - and utilize services like Medicaid.

"People see people who don't look like them who have an accent like them as a threat, like I'm trying to take something away," said Gallegos. "I want them to see me as a friend, that they see me as their neighbor, or someone they can trust. We are all trying to work together to build something."

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