Recipient reflects on DACA ahead of program's 12th anniversary

Recipient reflects on DACA ahead of program's 12th anniversary
4 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago Friday, June 14 2024 Jun 14, 2024 June 14, 2024 4:04 PM June 14, 2024 in News - Local

In just a few days, a "Dreamer" in the Rio Grande Valley will be able to visit her birthplace in Mexico.   

Pharr has been Laura Mendez's home for the past 19 years.

Mendez was only a year old when her parents brought her to the United States from Tamaulipas, Mexico. For the last seven years, Mendez has been a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

The 20-year-old woman said she wants to become an American citizen.

“DACA really changed my life, once I was able to receive my DACA, I transferred to a job where I work through a social security number,” Mendez said. “I was able to get my driver's license from Texas, I was able to get many things, I was able to get health care for me."

Saturday, June 15, marks 12 years since the creation of the DACA program, which protects undocumented migrants who were brought to the county by their parents. It gives more than half a million "dreamers" a chance to work, go to school, and travel without being deported.

“And many, if not all of the DACA holders, they have a family. They have a job. They’re part of our community,” immigration attorney Alex Martinez said.

Martinez said the program was supposed to be a bridge to legislative action that would lead to a permanent solution.

Since the program began in 2012, there's been pushback and legal battles that’s left the future of DACA in limbo. 

“They don't know what's going to happen with the next election cycle, they don't know what's going to happen with the next president,” Martinez said. “They don't know what's going to happen with the next decision in the Supreme Court."

A recent change created Advanced Parole, a permit Dreamers can apply for to travel outside the U.S. for education, employment or humanitarian reasons.

In just a few days, Mendez will use that permit to cross the border into Mexico to visit relatives.

“I think it would be good to reconnect where you're from and to just get to know the culture where you're from and meet the family – you never know when you'll have another chance to travel again to visit your home place again,” Mendez said.

Legal experts say advance parole is safe if you do it correctly.

More information on the Advance Parole permit is available online. 

Watch the video above for the full story. 

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