photo: One America
by Lisbeth Vazquez
Ed Note: In August of 2012, with increased pressure from immigration activists, President Barack Obama granted specified foreign-born individuals, mostly young people, the lawful right to work and receive federal financial aid for higher education, among other rights, through his initiative, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA).
To date there have been more than 600,000 DACA applications submitted with California leading the nation in applications. Though there has been much publicity around DACA, even in California there are areas where information and resources to apply aren’t so readily available.
Lisbeth, 17, tells her story detailing her DACA application, including tips on how to navigate the process and her concerns for the future.
I was born in Mexico but I grew up in El Nido, a small rural town outside of Merced. Growing up,
I remember hanging out with other kids from the neighborhood and dreaming about becoming teachers or nurses.
One day I was talking with my mom and said, “Mom, I can’t wait to start working.”
Her response confused me, “Well I’m sorry to tell you this, but I don’t think you can because you don’t have papers.”
It was then that I realized I wasn’t legally in the US. It tormented me. I began to feel disconnected from others. When I got to high school I began to worry. How am I going to go to college if I can’t work or get financial aid?
I heard of DACA while watching the news. I was excited to learn that if I applied and was accepted, it would allow me attain legal residency, get a job and even get financial aid! I’m sharing my DACA experience to make it easier for any other young person who is thinking of applying but doesn’t know where to start.