The final extension deadline for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program passed on October 5. Approximately 2,000 recipients of this program in San Luis Obispo County stand to lose their legal residency status and work permit received through DACA.
Karen Garcia is a staff reporter at the New Times San Luis Obispo. She decided she wanted to explore the lives of a few recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in San Luis Obispo County. She spoke to KCBX about who she found.
KCBX: Why did you want to do this report?
GARCIA: I think that the Deferred Action for Childhood survival program is really important. Not only to the undocumented community that it helps, but to advance youth in a path of education to help them move forward with their lives. Because a lot of these undocumented youth come with their families to pursue an education that maybe they wouldn't have had [in] whatever country they come from. And so I just think it's really important because education is important.
KCBX: So [in your article] you follow the lives of some DACA recipients in the area. Can you tell me about some of the specific people you talked to?
GARCIA:. I spoke with Erik Garcia. He is a Cal Poly student whose family was from Mexico. He only remembers growing up in the Bay Area and Modesto. And that's about it. Yes, he could have family back in Mexico, but his roots are here. And with the DACA program, he was able to continue on with his education from high school to college. And right now he's working on his last quarter at Cal Poly. He's hoping to get his degree in history and political science. And then I also spoke with Lucio Casiano. Lucio worked with his mom in the strawberry fields in Santa Maria. And he worked there for about three years before his mom just decided, ‘Okay, I'm going to put two options in front of you. Here's a strawberry picking basket. And here's a backpack. You either decide whether you want to work in these fields or you want to pursue your education.’ And he decided to pursue his education because coming to this country he came from Mexico. When he and his mother came together, they only had each other with their clothes on their backs. Starting over from the country they came from, from what they knew and building a life in Santa Maria wasn’t easy. And so for him picking up that backpack was picking up a new life.
KCBX: You've been reporting on this... and I know you are a person of Mexican descent. And I was curious about how this affected you and your reporting. This is something that might be a little closer to your heart than other stories might be. Can you talk a little bit about that?
GARCIA: Both my parents are immigrants. When they first came here, my dad was a teenager and my mom was about elementary school age. Both came undocumented. But my mom is a resident and my dad actually became a citizen two years ago. Working on the story and hearing stories from other individuals... It's programs like this that remind me that my parents came here because they wanted a better life. When they finally met up and started their own family, they wanted something more. Currently my dad is a truck driver for a meat packing industry and he's done that for more than 20 years. And my mom has been a homemaker for as long as I can remember. And you know, they pushed us to be successful. I have two other siblings. And two of us have college degrees and one of us is a law enforcement officer. So our parents wanting something more for us... We’re successful. I mean, here I am doing reports about other people just wanting the same thing.
Read Karen Garcia’s full story here.