What Happens When Your DACA Work Permit Expires
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Last week, the White House scuppered a bipartisan plan to resolve the immigration status of hundreds of thousands of so-called DREAMers. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program - or DACA - provides protection from deportation to those brought to the U.S. as children. Even though a federal court blocked President Trump's effort to end DACA outright, some DREAMers' work authorizations have already expired. And others will expire soon. One of those is Tolu Aleshinloye from Nigeria. Her DACA status ends on March 22. And she joins us now from Miami to talk about it. Welcome to the program.
TOLU ALESHINLOYE: Thank you. Hi.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi. Tell me your story. How did you come to the United States?
ALESHINLOYE: So my story is similar to many. At the age of 3, my parents brought me here. And they essentially overstayed their visas. And I actually found out as an adult that I was considered an illegal status. I was super fortunate that I was able to obtain academic scholarships. So I did attend Fordham University in the Bronx. I was able to start my career. We just basically slipped through the cracks.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: When and how did you apply for DACA? Was it a difficult decision for you to sort of, as they say, come out of the shadows?
ALESHINLOYE: It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make. And I was so relieved to be able to have an opportunity to sort of get right. I thought that this was going to be an opportunity for me to have a path to citizenship. And I quickly found out it wasn't. People have warned me that, you know, well, what if the next president decides to rescind it, and they now have all your information? And for me, I just felt like it was the best option. It was a way for me to be able to sleep at night. I don't think people realize the psychological impacts of just having to navigate being, quote, unquote, "undocumented status."
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell me why your status is set to expire. There was a deadline in which you could've applied. Why is it expiring now?
ALESHINLOYE: So on Sept. 5, the Trump administration ended DACA. Anybody whose DACA ended between Sept. 5 and March 5 were able to apply for an extension. Mine, unfortunately, expires on March 22. So I was basically two weeks shy of being able to apply for an extension.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What has been the advice that you've gotten in terms of what needs to happen next or what you can do?
ALESHINLOYE: Well, what people don't really realize is my DACA has expired before. You know, it takes quite a while for all of these things to be processed. And so I filled everything out. And my DACA actually expired. And I had to - you know, my employer was not able to employ me. So I had to stop and go on a leave of absence. It was extremely humiliating. And obviously, that disruption to your life is, you know, pretty devastating when you're not getting paid.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: On Thursday, President Trump also referred to African nations using a highly offensive term. You are originally from Nigeria. What's your reaction to that?
ALESHINLOYE: I was - it was hurtful. That's what I'll definitely say. As much as I want to be a citizen of this country, I'm very proud of where I'm from. You know, my fellow Haitians, my fellow Africans - we've done so much to contribute to the United States. And we just know that what we bring to the country is so important. And I just won't even address those comments.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Just briefly, what do you do as a job?
ALESHINLOYE: So I work in merchandising strategy at Tiffany jewelry company.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you spoken to your bosses about what may happen in March if your DACA authorization expires? And you're a manager, too. What are you telling your employees?
ALESHINLOYE: So at this point, not everyone on the staff is familiar or knows what my status is just because we don't think it's necessary until we finally get to the point where I'll no longer be able to work here. So my management team - they're extremely supportive. And they're watching the news just like I am. So, you know, when it gets closer to March, I'll have to have a discussion with the team that I have out here. But at this point, we're all just hoping and praying that something changes, that we do get a DREAM Act, that we don't have to deal with this because, you know, there's a potential that I just won't have a job after March 22.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tolu Aleshinloye is a DACA recipient in Miami. Thank you very much for joining us.
ALESHINLOYE: Thank you.
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