PART TWO OF A THREE-PART SERIES ON DACA REPEAL
Journalist awaits DACA approval during policy changes.
By Juan Betancourt
As the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, signed as an executive order by former President Barack Obama, ends, thousands of beneficiaries are uncertain of their future. Fear of deportation rises as lawmakers cannot agree on what to do with the more than 800,000 DACA recipients currently protected under the program.
“It’s not new, the feeling and fear is not new,” Antonio, a former Brookhaven College student, said. Antonio, who asked his real name be withheld so as to not jeopardize his DACA application status, is waiting to be notified whether he will be one of the last to benefit from the program.
When he was 12, Antonio was told he was an undocumented immigrant. He said he feared deportation at the time, but that fear subsided as time passed.
“I never believed for a second that it was going to be a permanent solution,” Antonio said of DACA.
A CHANGE OF HEART
When DACA was announced June 15, 2012, Antonio did not bother applying for the program. He felt he did not need to at the time and was not worried about his legal status.
But when Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, Antonio said for the first time in his life, he felt he had to apply in order to guarantee his place in the U.S.
Antonio applied for DACA in March and is still waiting to hear back as of press. He borrowed money from family to pay the $495 application fee. As part of the application process, he completed a background check and proved he was residing in the country at the time of Obama’s announcement.
Antonio did not have to worry about the DACA application requirements – he met each item on the list. “I literally fit every qualification and every single requirement,” Antonio said.
According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to qualify, recipients need to show they were physically present in the country on the date of announcement and when filing an application. They must have been under 31 years old, arrived before turning 16 and continuously resided in the country since June 15, 2007.
Students needed to be enrolled in school, graduated from high school or have earned a GED certificate, or have been an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military.
Applicants must have a record clean of felony charges and significant misdemeanors.
On the day Obama signed DACA into law, Antonio was working as an intern with a Dallas-area arts and culture publication. At the time, he asked his editor to write a letter stating he was living in the country in 2012. To support his claim, Antonio used a bank statement that showed he purchased a Dallas Area Rapid Transit pass the same day of the announcement.
A BETTER LIFE
Antonio was born in Monterrey, Mexico. He was 4 years old – too young to remember his home country – when his family immigrated to the U.S. but said he knows why his parents crossed the border.
In December 1994, the peso, Mexico’s currency, devalued by 50 percent, according to The Economist. During the ensuing crisis, many Mexicans sought better financial opportunities in the U.S. Antonio and his family left Monterrey in 1996 and settled in Oak Cliff. Antonio said his family came in legally using a tourist visa, which they renewed several times to remain in the country. However, after 9/11, when immigration laws became stricter, they were not able to renew their visas again, which had expired.
Antonio said he does not have a clear memory of his last visit to Monterrey 17 years ago.
A PATH IN LIFE
Antonio attended Mountain View College, but the school did not have a journalism program.
After researching Richland College, he contacted the campus for more information – no one answered. Antonio then called Brookhaven College. Daniel Rodrigue, a journalism professor, answered the phone and told him about the program.
Antonio said he started in Brookhaven’s journalism program as a staff writer and was quickly promoted to an editorial position. He turned down the role of editor-in-chief after being accepted to the University of North Texas, where he completed his degree.
While at UNT, he returned to the his former publication during a required internship and gained more experience working in a newsroom and writing articles.
After graduation he worked at a Latino-blog, but wanted to move forward with his career. He said he felt he needed a fresh start. He quit his job and worked in the family catering business to earn an income.
In the fall of 2016, Antonio took an internship with another Dallas publication.
After the internship, Antonio freelanced for a while until the editor of the publication he interned with offered him a paid position over the summer.
Antonio said he is confident his DACA application will be approved. He is not worried about getting deported. However, he said he fears his parents and other DACA recipients will be deported one day.