Engineer Puts A Human Face On Today’s Supreme Court Immigration Case

The case is questioning whether President Obama overstepped his authority or ignored legal procedures when he made changes to immigration law.

Felipe Salazar arrived in Miami with his family at the age of 10, using a tourist visa to flee guerrilla warfare in Colombia. One of his most vivid elementary school memories was watching gunmen firing into the nearby mountains from a hovering aircraft.

A childhood hobby of helping his father repair computers turned into a passion that led him to Georgia Tech, where he earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in computer science. But his undocumented status prevented Salazar from applying for student financial aid, so his grandparents drained their savings to send him to college. Despite graduating with honors, he worried about his prospects of finding a job in Silicon Valley without working papers.

Life changed for Salazar in 2012, when President Obama issued an executive order that allowed immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to apply for temporary protection from deportation and obtain work permits. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, made it possible for him to get a job as a software engineer at Microsoft and, later, join Doppler Labs, a wearable technology startup in San Francisco.

“Without DACA I would not be here, I would not be working, I would not be putting my skills to work,” said Salazar, who is now putting his younger sister through school. “I really don’t know what I would be doing.”

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