Reyna Montoya was on a plane, Sheridan Aguirre was standing outside the White House, and Concepcion Solis had arrived at work early to be in front of her computer when US attorney general Jeff Sessions upended their lives.
“I was debating whether or not I should come to work because I knew it was going to be hard,” Solis said. “But what can I do? Now more than ever I need to continue working.”
The Trump administration’s termination of the policy that protected “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children – from deportation will affect nearly 800,000 young people. Five years after Barack Obama’s implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca) allowed recipients to get driver’s licenses, attend college, begin careers, purchase homes, and do all the other things that US citizens take for granted, Dreamers now face the reality that it could all be taken away.
For Solis, that means preparing for a future without her well-paid job at an insurance company and her rent-controlled apartment in her hometown of Oakland.
“My work permit expires in September, so I have until September,” the 30-year-old Daca recipient said. “I need to work as much as I can right now and save as much money as I can.”
Among Solis’s most pressing concerns is the fact that she provided the federal government with extensive information about herself in order to receive Daca in the first place. “Immigration has my address,” she said. “So come September, what’s going to happen?
“I can’t stay there, but where am I going to go?”
Montoya, a Daca recipient and the founder of a grassroots immigrant rights organization in Phoenix, Arizona, was concerned not just for herself but for the people who work for her.
“I have as an employee a US citizen,” she said Tuesday. “What does it mean if I get taken away?”
For Angelica Hernandez, a mechanical engineer at an energy efficiency company in Chandler, Arizona, the stakes are incredibly high. Hernandez was born in Mexico, but came to the US at the age of nine. She received Daca when she was studying for a master’s degree at Stanford. She bought a house, married another Daca recipient, and has two children who are US citizens.