DACA recipient at Wesleyan hopes Congress keeps program

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Alejandra Villamares, who was awarded DACA status in September 2016, just started her freshman year at Wesleyan (Conn.) University. (Courtesy of Alejandra Villamares)

Alejandra Villamares, who was awarded DACA status in September 2016, just started her freshman year at Wesleyan (Conn.) University. (Courtesy of Alejandra Villamares)

WHYY recently told the story Delaware vo-tech student Alejandra Villamares, who won a full scholarship to Wesleyan University with the help of TeenSHARP, an advocacy group that helps low-income students of color get accepted into elite colleges.

Villamares, whose family emigrated illegally from Mexico when she was a youngster, was granted Deferred Action against Childhood Arrivals or DACA status a year ago.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration delivered a blow to her and the other 800,000 DACA recipients, saying it would end the program enacted by former President Obama by executive order and appealing to Congress to decide the issue legislatively.

Villamares, who graduated from Howard High School of Technology and began classes at the prestigious Connecticut college this week, had hoped President Trump would be lenient on DACA recipients like herself.

Villamares said she can stay in school through graduation, but losing DACA could mean she would need to stay on campus or risk the chance of being deported.

“Wesleyan is a sanctuary so they can’t really touch me here when I’m here but in terms of work and stuff like that it’s definitely going to affect me,” she said. “If they take DACA away I am completely undocumented and unable to work in the United States legally.”

Villamares is now re-evaluating her goal of becoming a documentary filmmaker and chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in America like herself. Meanwhile, she’s hoping Congress decides to maintain the program so she can continue following her dreams in her adoptive country.

“Definitely making me rethink my whole life. As of right now I’m not really sure what’s going to happen. But I’m definitely going to study and see what happens.”

“I guess the worst that can happen is they take it away and and I guess I won’t be able to work legally,” the college freshman from the Newark area said.

“That’s the worst that can happen which is pretty bad, but I’ve always been pushing forward no matter what so I’ll just continue seeing whatever happens.”

 

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