As DACA hits 10-year anniversary, many applicants say their future remains uncertain
Ten years ago, the Obama Administration introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, a pathway for undocumented children to gain citizenship in the United States, though many recipients of the program said their status remains in limbo.
More than 825,000 eligible immigrants have benefited from DACA, with Ana Cristina Zamora being among them.
"I was an essential worker. I worked in a hospital during the pandemic," Zamora, a graduate of California State University Los Angeles, who left Mexico with her parents when she was just 5 years old, said.
Deyanira Nolazco came even earlier, at 2 years old.
"I don't even remember Mexico," she said, and added that she wouldn't be able to recognize where she came from if she ever returned.
Nolazco said her DACA application was never finalized.
"They said I was going to go in for fingerprints and then it froze, and that's been since 2020," she explained.
Both young women call LA home, now and forever, but on this 10-year anniversary of DACA, they said their futures are in limbo.
"We're also pleading with Congress that 10 years is enough, that this promise of providing a path to legalization has not been accomplished," said Bell Gardens Councilwoman Alejandra Cortez.
Together with the Southeast Leadership Network, they're planning to hand-deliver notebooks signed by DACA students across the U.S. to D.C. lawmakers.
Students said this is not only a personal way to tell their stories, but by doing this in mass numbers, it's showing Congress that thousands and thousands of them are still here.
"Congress, the White House, whoever is willing to read this and understand the value of these lives," said Sergio Infanzon with the Southeast Leadership Network.
Nolazco is a recent California State University Fullerton, graduate, who dreams of becoming a physical therapist.
"I may not be an American citizen on paper, but I am an American citizen by heart," she said.
Zamora's dream is to teach the next generation of Angelinos.
"No, I'm not a token. I worked. I sacrificed a lot to be there, to get to that position and be able to get my masters in teaching, in English, even though I came here at 5 years old and didn't know the language," Zamora said. "But here I am, going to teach fellow citizens the language and literature of America."
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