DACA protest. Photo by Jackie Ramírez

This is a script from a story by a Boyle Heights Beat journalist that’s part of KCRW’s Boyle Heights youth radio project.  You can listen to the story here:

Ambient 1 Sound of “No hate no fear, immigrants are welcomed here” Chant

On a recent Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people crowd MacArthur Park. They’re protesting the Trump administration’s decision to repeal DACA. The legislation that enabled almost a million young people to get things like driver’s licenses and social security numbers.

Ambient 2 Sound of People Chanting

20 year-old Citlaly Medina wades through the crowd.  She’s here to defend DACA. That legislation gave her the ability to work official jobs and consider college.

ACT 1 “This affects everyone is so many different levels”

Medina waves a Mexican flag as she marches down Alvarado street. She’s proud of her heritage, but terrified of having to actually go back to where she was born.

“If they do repeal this I would be forced to go back to a country that I don’t know. I was 7 months old and I never went back. I don’t know what it’s like to live in Mexico. I’ve never seen it. It would completely change my life.”

Ambient Sound 3 Fade out the march

Around a week after the march, Citlaly Medina walks through the downtown Santee Alley area.

Ambient Sound 4 Sound of walking in Santee Alley

At 14 Medina began to work here at her dad’s cell phone accessory store. At 17 she took a job at a nearby makeup shop.

ACT 2 “I was making about $60 a day, no lunch included, no sick days, no benefits, no nothing.”

Medina was still in high school, and making below minimum wage because she was undocumented.

And then…she applied for DACA, and got it. Things changed.

 “The very first thing that I loved about DACA was the feeling of sense of peace and knowing that I was here legally that it was something that had to be respected and as long as I did what I had to do I was fine.”

It also made her feel that she had a future in the United States. Before DACA she figured she’d wind up like her undocumented Tia, who got a Masters degree but couldn’t use it because of her legal status.

“To me there was no point of going to school if I knew I couldn’t afford it or if I knew that even if I did receive the degree I wasn’t going to be able to use it.”

But after DACA her perspective changed. She started going to community college and now has a job at a grocery store.

“There’s a lot of perks working with a social, there’s unions, sick days, there’s benefits.”

Ambient Sound 5 of Front Porch

On an early evening, Citlaly Medina sits on her front porch. Cars pass by. Neighbors are out for walks. The sun is going down as she reads her acceptance letter for her DACA renewal that she got a few months ago .

ACT 3 “Notice of Deferred Action: This notice is to inform you regarding U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services decision on your form I-821D consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

One word in particular sticks out.

“The Alien’s change of address card”

It’s the word alien.

“Using that word is so it’s kind of in a way to make you seem nonhuman make it easier for people to be the way that they are with immigrants.”

The recent political debate over the future of DACA has Medina feeling unsettled. She’s still going to Community College, but she’s unsure about her future again.

“You’re putting so much time and effort into a degree and you’re expecting it to better your life and better your opportunities and everything. It would be really devastating after all of this the decision isn’t in our favor.”

In the beginning, DACA gave Medina a social security number, the ability to hold a formal job, and the motivation to actually go to college. It was a good deal. But now she feels like she signed her future away to the US government, and she’s not sure what she’s going to get in return.

Reporting in Boyle Heights, this is Jacqueline Ramírez

The Boyle Heights youth radio project is a collaboration between KCRW’s Independent Producer Project and Boyle Heights Beat managed by Producer Jesse Hardman. 

Listen to all stories here: bit.ly/BHB_kcrw

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Jacqueline Ramírez

Jacqueline Ramírez is a former reporter and recent graduate from Mount Saint Mary’s University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and New Media. She enjoys sharing the art of storytelling...

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