June 15 marked the six-year anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA), leaving many recipients in light of recent events to contemplate their precarious situation
One of whom, Daniel Candelaria, has been a recipient since the program was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012. Candelaria, 29, crossed with his family into the United States from Mexico when he was only 11.
On the mark of the 6-year anniversary and in light of recent events, recipients of the Obama-era program of Deffered Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) contemplate their precarious situation
PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY VIRIDIANA VILLA
He has since graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Government and Education.
When the Trump administration assumed a hardline stance against undocumented immigrants, Candelaria decided to help organize supporters with United We Dream, an activist network that campaigns on behalf of the undocumented community. He currently serves as the Texas Advocacy Organizer.
“I saw what was happening in this country and I just wanted to organize so I decided to continue… I’ve been an organizer ever since,” Candelaria said.
Candelaria has been a part of United We Dream since 2008 and is one of 400,000 members across 28 states who together comprise the largest national network of its kind.
He insists that all DACA recipients’ desire is “peace of mind” and says he wants to “help as many people as possible.” Like many DACA beneficiaries, Candelaria is afraid he may be separated from his family.
His mother, a legal resident, has been petitioning for his residency since 2013, but the process can take anywhere from 13 to 14 years to complete.
“This is my home and I’ve been living here for most of my life…I’ve been living here for 18 years. I call Texas and the United States ‘home’. Everybody I know lives here,” said Candelaria who could face deportation if his DACA status is not renewed,
Although concerned for himself, Candelaria seems more worried about his community at large, especially since Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” policy began separating families and forcing the detention of undocumented minors.
Candelaria believes that “no human being is illegal. We all have dreams, we all have aspirations….We’re tired of being criminalized.”
The treatment of undocumented families has rallied politicians such as Representative of the 16th District, Beto O’ Rourke and his political rival for the Senate, Ted Cruz.
On Fathers’ Day, O’Rouke and Representative Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts led a protest at a Southwest Key program facility in Tornillo Texas, dubbed the ‘tent city’, which can retain up to 4,000 undocumented children whose parents are awaiting federal prosecution.
In addition, Senator Cruz recently introduced emergency legislation to end the separation of families under “Zero Tolerance.”
If passed, the Protect Children and Parents Act would double the number of federal immigration judges, mandate that families be kept together in temporary shelters and expedite asylum cases within 14 days as long as the necessary requirements were met.
In a statement Senator Cruz provided he states that “while in the Senate, I proposed legislation to prevent the Obama administration from illegally expanding amnesty while working to hold it to the standard set in our Constitution.
I also proposed amendments that would have strengthened border security, increased the number of tools available for law enforcement, expanded green card opportunities for legal immigrants, prevented illegal aliens from receiving welfare benefits, and enforced the rule of law.
It is a fight that continues as our nation works through the impact of the previous administration’s disregard for the rule of law.”
In closing, Candelaria states, “this is my home, and when somebody tells you, you don’t belong here because of a question of technicalities… How would you feel? This is our home now and we’re gonna fight for it.”
For more information on United We Dream and how to contribute to their cause visit unitedwedream.org.