SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Tuesday marked the ninth anniversary of the DACA program, created during President Obama’s administration that allowed nearly 700,000 young undocumented immigrants in the country to live, attend school, work, and give back to their community. This Friday will also mark one year since the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the program and prevent Dreamers from being deported.
Experts with FWD.us say nearly one-third of DACA recipients work in essential industries such as healthcare, education, transportation, food service and supply. Across the country, more than 20,000 Dreamers are frontline healthcare workers such as nurses, health aides, and medical assistants. Researchers say these young immigrants are more likely to have second degrees than native-born Americans and already have a higher workforce participation rate.
However, immigration advocates say the lack of congressional action to provide Dreamers with an earned pathway to citizenship continues to threaten their lives and contributions in the country. U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen is expected to issue a ruling any day now that could terminate the DACA program, putting recipients at risk of being separated from their families and deported to countries they may not remember.
Liliana Bolanos, a DACA recipient and bilingual legal aid for Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. for an IN FOCUS discussion about her personal experiences. She talked about her background, what brought her family to the U.S., what it was like to grow up undocumented in the country, her achievements and opportunities, the volatility of the DACA program, how a pathway to citizenship would change her life, and what allies can do if they want to support Dreamers at this time.
Abigail Pina, a DACA recipient and intern at Voices for Utah Children, shared her background, what brought her family to the U.S., the challenges and barriers she faced being undocumented, what the DACA program has meant to her, her accomplishments and opportunities, the volatility of the program, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
Samuel Cervantes, a DACA recipient and research associate for FWD.us, discussed how he is reflecting on the program’s ninth anniversary, why Dreamers are essential and need protection, and why they’re calling on Congress to provide Dreamers with an earned pathway to citizenship.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Bolanos, Pina, and Cervantes, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.