Clara is a 24-year-old Family Advocate at De Colores Head Start & Early Head Start, a preschool for low-income families in the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland. Clara is one of the 800,000 DACA recipients that were able to go to college, work and fulfill their dreams thanks to their temporary legal immigration status.
Clara, like most DACA recipients, sees the United States as her home. She was brought to the US when she was only 3 years old. While talking about her experience, she said,
“I don’t really remember being there, I don’t have memories of the place where I was born. I grew up thinking of myself as from Oakland.”
Throughout her childhood, Clara was unaware of her immigration status. It was not until she wanted to apply for a job in high school that her parents revealed to her that she was undocumented and could not work. But that did not stop Clara from having big dreams: she continued her education and applied to several four-year colleges and she was accepted to UC Berkeley and San Jose State. But due to her immigration status, she was ineligible for financial aid, so she decided to go to the two-year Merritt College to get her general education credits and then transfer to a four-year college when she could afford it.
Clara was uncertain about what was going to happen after she transferred to a four-year college, but hope arrived on 2012 when President Obama initiated the immigration policy known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA provides a 2-year deferment from deportation actions and provides eligibility for a work permit. This meant stability and security for Clara and hundreds of thousands of students like her. She was suddenly able to apply for financial aid and other scholarships as well as get a formal job.
On 2015 Clara got her Sociology and Social Services bachelors and this year she graduated with her Masters in Social Work from Cal East Bay. While reflecting on the effect DACA had in her life, Clara stated,
“[DACA] helps people. It did shape my life. It allowed me to have the same opportunities as everyone else that grew up with me.”
Today Clara is unsure about her future. The current administration’s actions against DACA placed her and 800,000 young adults like her on an immigration limbo, she says, “based on my education, I thought I would be a successful person in the future. Now, I don’t know where I’m headed. Not having papers affects your life on so many levels.”
Clara is hopeful that Congress will come to an agreement and will realize the positive impact DACA has in the United States. Clara states,
“I am proof that DACA is really good. I am a successful DACA recipient, I received my education, and I work in a position that is beneficial to the community, and the country.”
Clara’s real name was changed to protect her privacy and identity.