Children and Youth

Living in the Shadows

DACA was rescinded early Sept. leaving many young undocumented people wondering about their future. This is "David's" story.

La historia puede ser traducida en Español. BenitoLink ofrece la opcion de ‘Google Translate’ que esta localizada en el lado derecho.


David*, a current student at San Benito High School, was working on his DACA application when he heard the program had been rescinded. It was early September and President Donald Trump and his administration had just announced that they would be leaving the fate of the nearly 800,000 recipients of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) in the hands of lawmakers. (*”David”, who is undocumented, has concerns for his safety in the U.S. and asked to have his name changed for this article.)

“I was at school when I heard that President Trump rescinded DACA. In all honesty, it took every ounce of strength in my body to not break down into tears. I wondered how our president, the person that was voted to lead our country, could do something so horrible. Not only was I scared for myself, I was scared for the other 800,000 DREAMers in my situation,” he said.

Homeland Security stopped accepting applications immediately after the announcement. Those who need a DACA renewal are able to do so as long as they renew no later than Oct. 5, 2017.

Introduced by the Obama administration in 2012, the program grants young undocumented immigrants who were primarily raised in the United States the ability to live and work under a two year renewable period, so long as they have no criminal record and are able to prove they were brought to the US before the age of 16.

David, his mother, and older sister came to the U.S. when he was about two years of age. “I’m not exactly sure how we got here, since I was never told and was too afraid to ask. All I know is that it was for our own good,” he said.

He was raised in the U.S. all of his life, completely unaware of his undocumented status until the age of 11 when his aunt revealed the truth.

“At first, I had no idea what she meant by ‘You’re illegal,’ so she further explained. Ever since then that thought has stuck in my head. To me, being an undocumented immigrant means living in fear and waking up everyday thinking it could be my last in the United States. It’s terrifying,” he said.

DACA provides much more than legal status to its recipients. To many, it represents a chance at a better future.

“When I learned about DACA, it seemed like I might have an opportunity in this country after all. DACA changed my whole perspective on my status, I finally saw some hope in my future,” David relayed. “To me, DACA means opportunity, equality, and hope. DACA means that all my years of hard work and education will pay off. With DACA, I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. DACA means the world to me.”

With the possibility of DACA being removed, David is uncertain of what his future holds.

“All I can do is remain hopeful that congress will do the right thing and keep the program. I’m planning on consulting with an immigration lawyer and gathering advice on what I can do. But for now, the future is uncertain,” he said.

Nevertheless, David strives for a better outcome. He hopes to go on to college to study either software or mechanical engineering.

“I have also pondered the thought of becoming a teacher, if I choose not to be an engineer, so I can inspire and motivate kids the way my teachers did for me,” he said.

David, along with fellow DREAMers, has found a safe haven in the DREAMers and Allies club at San Benito High School. The club is aimed at aiding undocumented students and offering them an open door to higher education. It provides DREAMers with scholarship opportunities, a safe inclusive community, and provides information and resources. The club was started in 2015 by Irene Bailey, a Migrant Education Program Specialist for the high school’s district, and was later taken over by English teacher Carissa Alvarez in 2016. With the assistance of Special Education teacher Susan Burke, the club has grown quickly–from three students to about 20 in the two years since its founding.

“The current political climate has really affected a lot of our students. Students who are undocumented are scared. They are worried that all of their hard work at school will have been for nothing. They are terrified that they’ll be deported to countries that their parents fled when they were too young to even remember. This fear has pushed them to become more involved,” explained SBHS educator Mrs. Alvarez.

The club wasn’t always the DREAMers and Allies club. It was formerly just known as the DREAMers club.

“I think many allies have begun participating because they see the fear that their friends are experiencing and want to be their voice. They want to make a difference. They know that they are able to come forward and speak out for their friends who can’t speak for themselves. It’s been incredibly inspiring to watch,” continued Alvarez.

While Congress deliberates over the fate of DACA, David continues to strive for a better future–one in which he doesn’t have to fear being sent to a country he has never known.

“The U.S. is all I have ever known. I was raised here, just like every other citizen, I’m just undocumented. Who are they to tell me this isn’t my home? Their ancestors were immigrants just like me,” David said.

“If I could speak to the lawmakers deciding the fate of my future, I’d tell them to really think this through. These are the lives of many innocent people. These are people who have dedicated their lives to education and their jobs in order to have equal opportunities as U.S. citizens. These are people who have fought for their rights. These are people who contribute to society and make a difference,” expressed David. “What makes us less than anyone else? This is America, the Land of Opportunity. Removing DACA contradicts the American Dream. Removing DACA is not America.”

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.