OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – On Monday, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and several immigration organizers held a luncheon for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the program.
Almost a decade ago, the DACA program was created via an executive order by then-President Barack Obama.
The program allowed for undocumented children who entered the country prior to 2007, and later 2012, to live in the country legally, receive a work permit, attain a driver’s license and attend college.
In order to qualify for the program, the applicant must have:
Resided continuously in the U.S. prior to June 15, 2012
Must be at least 15 years old and younger than 31
Have not committed a misdemeanor or felony
Either attend high school or received a GED
Claudia Jimenez, who fled Venezuela with her family after dictator Hugo Chavez came into power, said the program completely changed her life.
She said after she graduated from high school in 2011, she had no prospects. She couldn’t work or go to college. With DACA, all those doors opened.
“It’s definitely helped me out,” Jimenez said. “It’s honestly night and day the difference what my life would be like.”
Since then, the 29-year-old graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in political science, which she hopes to use to become an immigration lawyer.
“It’s definitely my dream,” she said. “It’s definitely difficult to accomplish it, though, when you have DACA and you have to renew every two years.”
The renewal fee for DACA is currently $495, and more than 640,000 immigrants are currently enrolled in the program.
Christian Nova, 18, said he tried to enroll in the program, but political moves and judicial decisions prevented him from getting into DACA.
He said he and his siblings were set to apply for DACA about three years ago because that’s when he turned 15.
BY JESSE CANALES
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