Checking In On A DREAMer
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
The fate of 800,000 people known as DREAMers is being discussed and debated at the White House and Congress between Democrats and Republicans. President Trump announced the end of the Obama-era program DACA - or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - that protected immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. And until a deal can be cut among the politicians, it's unclear what will happen to the group, almost all of whom are either in school or employed. We're joined now by 22-year-old Ciriac Alvarez Valle. She was brought to Salt Lake City, Utah, from Mexico when she was just 5 years old. We spoke to her in January and also in March as she graduated from the University of Utah.
Welcome to the program.
CIRIAC ALVAREZ VALLE: Hi, thank you for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just to catch up, what have you been doing since your graduation?
VALLE: So after graduation, I hung out and then got a job. I work in community affairs now advocating for my Latina, Latino community through different programs and just empowering them about what opportunities are and stuff. I love it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, congratulations on your first job. That's awesome.
VALLE: Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know you've been following President Trump's tweets and his statements rather closely. What's been your reaction to his position on DACA?
VALLE: It's definitely very interesting to watch him go from one end to another end, having him rescind the DACA program, then telling us not to worry, then asking us, who would throw these young people out who are educated? Some of them even serve in the military. It's hard to understand exactly where his position really is. While he says he has supported DREAMers, he hasn't supported us, like, as a community.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: President Trump has actually been discussing pairing extending DACA with increased border security and building his border wall. Would you be happy with that kind of compromise?
VALLE: No. Personally, I do believe in a clean DREAM Act because you can't separate us from our families, from the people around us, from other immigrants. If we pass, you know, the DREAM Act with border enforcement, it separates us from the other immigrants. And we're not fighting for just DREAMers. We're not fighting for just young people. We're fighting for all 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what would you like to see?
VALLE: I would like to see a DREAM Act pass, a legislation passed and not have it be tied to any other border enforcement because DACA has never been enough. It's only a worker's permit and not even a legal presence - legal status.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: May I ask you a personal question? What's your immigration status right now? Do you know what's in store for you?
VALLE: I still am under DACA. So while I'm still undocumented, I can still legally work here. And because I just renewed my DACA application, I can continue to work for the next two years.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you're OK for now. What about your friends and family?
VALLE: Some of my friends and family still are able to work. However, my best friend - her DACA expires in mid-summer. So it's very important for me and for us as a community for legislation to pass.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ciriac, I'm curious - do you regret having come forward and actually voluntarily given your information to the government when they started this program?
VALLE: No, I think personally because I've been able to move forward with my life from going to college, graduating college, doing internships and now having a full-time job and having a car. I can't really regret having come out of the shadows and saying I want to do things right. This is who I am. I think it's given me a certain level of pride to say I was able to come out of the shadows, do all of these things. And I am, you know, part of your community. I am American. I am and always a Utahn. And so I can't regret coming out of the shadows if I was able to do so much and continue to move forward with my life.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ciriac Alvarez Valle - she's a DACA recipient in Utah.
Thanks very much for speaking with us.
VALLE: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF LABRADFORD'S "UP TO PIZMO")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.