Cal State Fullerton DACA students share their concerns amid uncertainty about citizenship status

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(Dalia Quiroz / Daily Titan)

(Editor’s note: The last names of the students in this story have been omitted to protect their status as recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.) 

Cal State Fullerton students Leo, Berenice and Ruben have more in common than their desire to further their education. They are also undocumented, and protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Leo, a fourth-year business finance major, came to CSUF because he felt it was a way to escape the negative influences in his neighborhood.

Berenice, a fifth-year business administration major, attends CSUF to receive a college education with financial assistance.

Ruben, a third-year business administration major, goes to CSUF because of its reputable business program.

Now the Trump administration’s plan to wind down the DACA program has thrown their prospects into uncertainty. President Donald Trump gave Congress until March 5 to legalize deferred action.

CSUF has a population of more than 800 undocumented students.

It wasn’t until his senior year of high school, when he was approved for DACA, that Leo realized how it would affect his future.

“In the last year and a half, I’ve gotten to take on leadership roles. Currently I’m working on giving back to the community. Although I’m a finance major, I really hope that in the end I can still continue to give back to the community and empower Hispanic residents and citizens,” Leo said.

DACA made Berenice’s life easier because it allowed her to legally work. Now job security is her biggest worry.

“I graduate this May, but after five months, if I don’t hear good news, my work permit expires so I guess my biggest struggle is what I am going to do with my degree after graduation,” Berenice said.

She plans for a future career in human resources, and to eventually own her own consulting company that would help other businesses develop.

Ruben did not think college was an option for him until DACA passed. The program has allowed Ruben to work legally and fund his education. He plans to become a financial advisor for individuals in underrepresented communities.

“This is what I want to do. This is the career that I want,” Ruben said. “Five years from now, who knows what I’m going to be doing.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has resumed accepting applications from individuals who have been previously granted deferred action. The change in policy was made Jan. 18 when a federal judge temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s decision to stop DACA renewals.

Lawmakers are expected to make a decision on this issue before March 5 and Congress will vote on a temporary spending bill to avoid another government shutdown on Feb. 8.

Trump addressed immigration reform in his State of the Union address Tuesday. In his speech, the president proposed a bill that funded a border wall and made changes to current immigration laws.

Berenice, Leo and Ruben all want one thing to come from lawmakers in the next month: a path to citizenship.

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