For These 'Dreamers', DACA Was the Path To A Normal American Life

Sep 12, 2017

US Sen. Cory Booker tells this group of advocates and DACA recipients that it's at the top of his legislative priorities.
Credit Ang Santos / WBGO

Nearly 800,000 people have been approved for the DACA program nationwide since 2012.

“All the talk of us taking away jobs and handouts is not true.”

Sara Moya is a twenty-year-old college student, a millennial, and a DACA recipient.

“We are given a license, a work authorization document.  We pay taxes even though we’re not documented quote, unquote.  DACA does not provide financial aid for us, for schools.  We cannot take out loans.  We can only receive private scholarships.  We do not get health care.  But it definitely does give us the opportunity to live peacefully and not fear we’re going to get deported when we’re just working.”

Tony Choi of Bergen County was 9 when his family came to the United States from South Korea.  He’s a high school and college graduate, currently a social media manager for a digital company.  In downtime, he cares for his elderly mother.

“In my family’s case, my mom is a US citizen and my sister is a green card holder.  They are very concerned about me and what could happen to me,” Choi said.  “For the past five years I’ve been able to build a livelihood.  That’s something I’d never thought I’d be able to say for myself.  I thought that I would always be working under the table.  Despite all of my education, despite everything I was able to do in high school and in college, I thought that was the end of the road.  I would have to find some other ways to survive if I was going to in the United States.  DACA was a five-year window that really let me know that I had a change of fulfilling my mother’s dreams, of fulfilling my own dreams.”

Tony’s deferred action expires in December 2018.  A little breathing room compared to some other dreamers, whose deferrals will expire before the six-month deadline given to Congress.

“We have to get Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation in both houses.  President Trump has to approve it.  DHS has to come up with the policies.  Six months is not enough time.  I am worried for the very first batch of people who will be losing their DACA on March 6.”

US Senator Cory Booker says DACA tops his list of legislative priorities.

“This is one argument, whether it’s a moral argument, an economic argument, there is no argument that can justify taking someone who has been in this country since they were one and a half years’ old and send them back to a nation that I have more memory of than they might.”

Pretty much the scenario for Jason, who came to America from Peru when he was five years old.  He’s encouraged by the support he’s seen for DACA recipients.

“I feel like that’s what America is all about.  Being able to have the courage to go out there, voice your opinion and actually change something.  If this dream, this idea that we have of being a nation truly together for immigrants, if that idea is with all of us and we fight to try and make it happen, I believe that we can make it happen.”