CTX elementary school teacher, DACA recipient reacts to ending of program

Posted at 3:09 PM, Sep 05, 2017
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:06-04

A Waco ISD elementary school teacher who is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) said she panicked at first she heard the announcement of the program ending. 

The program granted young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and met certain criteria a temporary relief from deportation, giving them work authorizations valid for two years.

Grecia Cantu said her parents brought her to the U.S. from Mexico when she was eight years old. The undocumented immigrant applied for the DACA program when she was 21, which she said has allowed her to remain in the U.S. legally without fear of deportation. In addition, the second-grade teacher at Cedar Ridge Elementary School said it has allowed her to achieve her professional goals.

“I have a job. I have been teaching for five years, which is incredible. It has been an amazing experience to give back to the district that raised me," Cantu said.

Furthermore, she said it has benefited her at the personal level.

“I purchased the car of my dreams, a Mini Cooper. We were able to buy a house. My husband and I were able to buy a house," Cantu said.

President Trump's Administration announced on Tuesday that the program will be phased out in six months. Cantu's DACA permit, which expires in Feb. 2019 will not be valid after that. If nothing changes, she will lose her work permit and be at risk of deportation.

“Not being able to work, it wouldn’t just mean, not giving back to my community and the fact that I couldn’t pay for my house anymore. I couldn’t pay for my car anymore," Cantu said.

Baylor University Law Professor Laura Hernandez who focuses on immigration law followed the announcement closely.

“Once the authorizations expire, they will not be renewed. In essence what the administration has done is say if these DACA recipients would have any hope of having any kind of legal presence or status, it would be up to Congress.” Hernandez said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded President Donald Trump's decision to phase out DACA, which was an executive order former President Barack Obama passed in 2012.

"DACA granted lawful presence and work permits to nearly one million unlawfully present aliens without Congressional authorization," Paxton said in a statement. "Had former President Obama’s unilateral order on DACA been left intact, it would have set a dangerous precedent by giving the executive branch sweeping authority to bypass Congress and change immigration laws. If ever there were a violation of the President’s duty to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,’ DACA was it: President Obama unilaterally conferred lawful presence and work authorization, and then President Obama used that lawful-presence dispensation to unilaterally confer U.S. citizenship."

League of United Latin American Citizens Member Benito Costilla, of Temple, who said some of his closest friends with an array of professions are DACA recipients sent News Channel 25 a statement regarding Tuesday's announcement.

"There’s an argument that DACA shouldn’t have been made though executive order. I for one agree! Congress with the President should have solved the issue instead. Today, I hope Congress and the President will take a chance to try again. Dreamers are amazing individuals, get to know one! All they are asking for is a chance to EARN their stay and give back to this country. I ask you to put yourself in their shoes; ask if it were me?" Costilla said in a statement.

Cantu hopes that by sharing her story, others would join her pushing Congress to pass laws, such as the DREAM Act.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, application for DACA for work authorizations will be accepted until Sept. 5. Applications for DACA renewal from current beneficiaries whose benefits expire between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018, will be accepted until Oct. 5. 

Click here to read the Memorandum on Rescission of DACA from Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.

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