The Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, has shocked many in Utah’s immigrant community.
Karla is one of those DACA recipients in Utah. She moved to the U.S. from Mexico at age 14. Now she’s a nurse at Salt Lake Regional and Intermountain Medical Centers. Karla declined to use her last name for this interview, but says DACA was critical to her achievements.
"I was able to contribute to taxes, just like a citizen. But now with me being able to work here legally, I was able to accomplish going back for my bachelor’s, going back for my master’s degree, provide for most of my family," Karla says.
DACA protects undocumented people who came to the U.S. before they were 16-years-old from being deported.
Deyvid Morales also had DACA status in Utah for four years. He came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was nine.
"Thanks to DACA I was able to use that work permit to work for the Granite School District here in Utah. And I worked as a special ed educator for Granger High School for two years," Morales says.
Morales is now married and in the process of getting U.S. citizenship.
Luis Garza is the executive director of Latino advocacy group Comunidades Unidas. He says there are 10,512 immigrants who currently have DACA status in Utah.
Garza says it is encouraging that this conversation has started, but he says, "the issue is that I don’t think it was necessary for the president to end the program before there was something permanent in Congress already being proposed and passed."
Several pieces of federal legislation are in their early stages. Garza says it’s now up to Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.