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Uncertain futures: experiences of DACA recipient and undocumented students

Posted at 1:31 PM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 16:31:04-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "I came to the United States when I was very small so I can't remember exactly how old I was."

Denisse Amezquita said her parents brought here legally when she was around three years old.

"So a tourist visa we came in with a visa already on us," she said.

Diana Ojeda was also brought to the States using a Visa.

"My mom brought me actually using her friend's baby's visa."

Both are undergraduates hoping to become attorneys.

Denisse said she may never see her grandmother again.

"If the time comes where she does pass away I wouldn't be able to go visit her funeral."

She is a DACA recipient.

Diana said she's currently undocumented but pursuing DACA status herself.

"If anything happens our family is definitely split," said Jesus Lucero.

Lucero said they're undocumented, brought to the country when they were four.

"My dad has been picked up by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), my younger brother has been a target of Customs and Border Protection in the past."

Jesus said their family has endured tough days during the Trump presidency.

"During the pandemic, right around mother's day...when my brothers DACA had expired, (they) threaten to arrest him again."

"Sleepless nights for me and my parents," Amezquita said.

This group of undergrads are among the 400,000 reported to be undocumented or under some migrant status studying in the country today.

Working toward their goals under a shadow of constant fear, for Denisse, fear that her parents could be sent away.

"One day if they were to be deported, you know I would be the head of the household, and trying to figure out how to pay bills, how to do college, how to raise my younger sibling, take care of my grandmother."

She said right now she can't even get work.

"Trying to get a job where it doesn't require to look at my Social (Security Number)."

Diana said can't make a living either.

"I don't drive and can't work."

A situation, she said, she would change if she could.

Jesus said their own fate rests in the hands of immigration courts.

"The only hope we have is that the wait list gets shortened, that processing times shrink."

As students, they have one other hope, Scholarships A-Z.

"We're connecting you to the resources that do exist and helping them create a plan."

A plan, Dario Andrade Mendoza said, will help them achieve, at the very least, their educational aspirations.

Dario said as more of their members become professionals, in Denisse and Diana's case, attorneys, it grows their community.

"(They) will actually create a path that then we are able to guide others, future students," Andrade Mendoza said.

Denisse, Diana and Jesus all said they hope to see some measure of immigration reform that provides a path for them to become citizens.

"Just like with daca, we didn't imagine that it was going to be reinstated and all the sudden it was, so anything can happen we just have to keep our hopes up." Denisse said.

They say one administration may or may not make things more difficult

"I just hope that the Biden administration helps get the act together," Ojeda said.

They all say they've learned they'll need to rely less on who is President and more so on each other and their own wills to get by.

"My goal isn't necessarily to adjust my status, it's for the government to adjust how they see us, because I don't think there's anything wrong with me," Jesus said.