DACA students fear deportation under Trump

Melissa De Piñeres

San Diego City College DACA students sat down with City Times for an interview about recent fears that President Donald Trump will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects undocumented childhood arrivals to the U.S. from deportation.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a two year renewable program that allows undocumented students to go to college, work, and travel within the United States legally. However, not all students living in the country illegally are approved under this program.

One 20 year-old law student came to the US when she was a year old. Using a relative’s documents,she and her family came from Guerrero, Mexico to seek better opportunities. (None of the DACA students interview for this article were willing to be identified.)

“The fear has always been there, even when Obama was in. I always asked myself, ‘What if he changes his mind? What’s going to happen when Obama leaves?’ Now, I feel unprotected, even when carrying my ID all the time. I’m always at risk of being deported, being at-risk of being taken back to the place I don’t know,” said this student.

A middle daughter of four kids, she was granted DACA, but the rest of her siblings were not approved because of missing documentation.

She says the process of getting documented is not only long, but very expensive and difficult.

“I work at a sock shop to help pay my house bills. I’m always afraid that my parents might get taken away,” she said.

Although the San Diego Community College District pledged in a Feb. 3 email to protect undocumented students by not sharing any immigration information with federal authorities, some students still say they feel unsafe outside of campus.

M.E.Ch.A., an activist group with a chapter at City College, has joined with the Association of Corporate Counsel in providing workshops and forums for undocumented students to better prepare them in case of deportation proceedings.

“They teach in the forum that they should not open the door in case of an ICE inspection but the kids don’t know that.” City College Chicano studies Professor Enrique Davalos said.

M.E.Ch.A. President Joanie Lopez said self defense classes will also be available for undocumented students who have been verbally and physically attacked.

Another City College DACA student traveled from Peru on a six-month visiting visa which eventually expired. At six years of age Pereda and his family decided to stay in the United States.

“My mother recently married a US citizen. My sister qualifies to become a citizen because she is a minor, but I’m not. DACA is the only thing helping me stay in school,” he says.

While President Trump has threatened to defund California cities which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, Governor Jerry Brown told the LA Times: “We will defend everybody, every man, woman and child who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.”

The DACA student said he wants to gets his associate degree and attend SDSU to study business. Eventually he wants to return to Peru to become president of that country. The law student says she wants to be a lawyer to help people that have the same migratory issues as she.