California DREAMing: Two Young Latinas Graduating as DACA Students Question Their Future by NIRMA HASTY

By Nirma Hasty

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Lizbeth Contreras, a high school senior and Itzel Guillen, a college senior, have mapped out their career and education futures.

Nonetheless, their graduations are filled with uncertainty even though they have temporary reprieves from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. Lizbeth, 17, crossed the border from Mexico to San Diego with her mom at the age of 3. Itzel, 22, arrived in the U.S. when she was 4.

“Being Mexican, you wait for your (15th birthday) because of your quinceañera. But I was waiting to become 15 because I knew that then, I could finally apply to DACA,” said Lizbeth.

Since former President Barack Obama authorized DACA in 2012, some 800,000 teens and young adults, many who have grown up in the U.S., have been able to remain in the country, work and go to college. In some states, the program has also allowed them to qualify for scholarships or get driver’s licenses.

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