By Stephanie Medina
Boyle Heights Beat
How are you affected by a DACA repeal?
Being a DACA recipient, I [will be] affected in many ways. It brought back many feelings that I had before receiving DACA. I was worried about getting deported or not being able to get a job to get money to not only pay for college, but also to help out my mom in any way possible.
How has DACA changed your life/your family and friends?
DACA changed my life in many ways. My older sister was working under DACA, which meant that she was able to get money to pay for her Berkeley tuition by herself and still send money back home to my mom and I. It also allowed my family, especially my younger sister, to not have to worry about my older sister or I being deported.
When I received DACA and when I fully understood what it did for me, I automatically felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I didn’t have to worry about being deported. More importantly I didn’t have to worry about my older sister being deported. Growing up undocumented forced my older sister to grow up faster than she should have. When my dad left, that forced her to go out and work multiple jobs to help support not only herself, but her family as well. DACA made our lives easier in the sense that we were able to get jobs and not spend so much time worrying about getting deported.
Where were you born, and how well could you survive in your home country if you were to be deported?
I was born in a state called Jalisco. I grew up in my family’s little ranch. We had dirt floors, and the home and farm itself was made by my dad and his brothers. If I’m being honest, I don’t know what I would do if I was deported. Last winter break I was able to visit my old house through advanced parole. Seeing my old house was kind of a shock. It was so different compared to the house I live in now. It is surrounded by a lot of trees and dirt. The house had no windows or electricity. There weren’t any doors either. There was no running water. The bathroom was placed outside of the house. It made me appreciate my current house more.
I began to appreciate the little things like having running water, indoor bathroom, warm water and electricity. If I were to be deported, it would be hard for me. This is the only place I know well enough to call “home.” All of my connections, relationships and friendships are here. I hate to say this, but I have no meaningful relationships in the country where I was born. If I were to get deported, I would be lost and confused. My education, my success, my dreams, they are all here. Everything that holds meaning to me is here.
What else would you like to share about your American immigrant story or that of your friends/loved ones?
When I was younger, I knew that I was undocumented, but what I didn’t know was how it affected me and my loved ones. I had no idea that there was a chance of any of us getting deported. I didn’t understand that it can basically happen any time. All I knew was that I was undocumented, and to me that just meant that I didn’t have papers. I didn’t know that I couldn’t vote and let my voice be heard. I didn’t know that, without DACA, I couldn’t go out and get a job to pay for my tuition and to help out my family. When I understood what it really meant to be undocumented, I began to live in fear. I began to fear any type of authority, even doctors and the hospitals.
Photo above by Jackie Ramírez for Boyle Heights Beat.
Stepanie Medina is a senior at Méndez High School.