President Trump has decided to end DACA. The Obama-era program offered legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. 800,000 young people received protection through the program, and many thousands of them live and study in Massachusetts.
Diana Ortiz Giron is one of them.
She came to the US from Mexico at the age of 6, traveling north with her mother and brother.
“Ever since then I’ve been working so hard in school because it was the only thing I could control,” says Ortiz Giron, now 25. “I couldn’t control our poverty, our family problems. But I could control how many As I got in school.”
She got a full ride to Pomona College, where she studied history. She went on to Harvard for her graduate degree.
“I know more American history than the average American,” she says with a laugh.
But Ortiz Giron says it was only five years ago, when she registered for DACA, that she started living a normal life. She got a driver’s license and a job on campus.
Now, with Trump’s decision to end DACA, things will change.
Diana Ortiz Giron is one of the lucky few. She's married to an American citizen and can apply for citizenship through her husband.
But, through tears, she says she worries for her family.
“Even when you are protected from deportation, you do not go to sleep, because your parents could be deported, because your siblings could be gone the day after. There is not a day where I don’t worry about what happens to my family.”
Ortiz Giron’s brother, also a DACA recipient, is a PhD student, studying biology in California. She says if he loses legal status, he plans to go back into hiding or move to Canada.
“We will lose a tremendous amount of potential [and] of academic excellence if our Dreamers go to Canada,” she says.
Ortiz Giron says as she watches the political debate unfold, she feels like President Trump talks about DACA recipients as a distant hypothetical.
“But the fact is that we are real humans,” she says. “We breathe, we pray, we cry, we laugh.”
Diana Ortiz Giron says in the next few days she’ll spend time praying that Congress passes immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship.