Christina is a 23-year-old DACA recipient in a mixed status family. She has two U.S. citizen brothers, one of whom served in the Navy. Christina’s sister is also a DACA recipient and suffers from schizophrenia and has a young daughter. Her mother is undocumented.
Because her brothers are U.S. citizens, Christina’s mother would be eligible for DAPA.
Christina was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was one year old. “I never really saw myself as an immigrant or even gave my ‘status’ a second thought,” says Christina. “The phrase ‘not having papers’ never bothered me because I never understood the meaning of it.”
“I remember sitting in front of the school computer and starting to fill out the application. When I had to enter my social security number I realized that I didn’t have that little blue card.”
Christina’s immigration status didn’t affect her life directly until senior year, when she and her friends were thinking of applying to school. “We were all so excited. I remember sitting in front of the school computer and starting to fill out the application. When I had to enter my social security number I realized that I didn’t have that little blue card [with a social security number] that my friends had with them,” she says. “That’s when I realized it does matter.”
Christina felt confused and helpless. “I can still feel that feeling of embarrassment for not being like everyone else in my class and not being able to pay for college,” she says. Christina was an honors student in high school, and had planned on continuing her education in college.
“I was so close to not attend college because the idea of paying for it out of pocket was so overwhelming,” remembers Christina. Fortunately, her high school counselor pushed her to follow through and apply to community colleges. “I’ll always be grateful for her…she didn’t let that happen,” shares Christina.
Christina began attending a community college and studying to earn her associate’s degree. To support herself, she got a job at a local grocery store: “Getting a job at [the store] was a blessing… because it helped pay my way for school for many years.”
When DACA was announced in 2012, Christina had saved enough money to apply. “I didn’t think twice to pay for the application fee and get the process moving,” she shares. “I was finally able to apply to any job I wanted and to get a social security number!”
With DACA, Christina was able to start working at a bank and is now working towards her bachelor’s degree.
“My mom’s income is not a lot and she can’t call out ever because sick days are not paid for her. With DAPA she can get a job that at least offers her some sort of benefits.”
While DACA has allowed Christina to continue pursuing her education and career, her family still lives with the anxiety of not knowing if and when her mother will be deported. Both Christina and her mom contribute to rent and utilities for the apartment where they live with Christina’s sister and her sister’s daughter.
“My mom works in a factory and they pay her per piece. She has to worry about being fast and accurate when sewing things,” Christina says. “My mom’s income is not a lot and she can’t call out ever because sick days are not paid for her. With DAPA she can get a job that at least offers her some sort of benefits.”
DAPA would mean that Christina’s mother can secure work authorization and a job with better pay and benefits, enabling her to take care of her daughter with schizophrenia and her granddaughter.