FRESNO, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Giselle Gasca came to the United States with her parents from Mexico when she was 10 years old. She was raised in Visalia and is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA.
“I don’t think people understand that again, we’re not criminals, we’re not here to harm anyone,” Gasca said. “We’re here to work, we’re here to live our version of the American dream.”
On Tuesday, Gasca waited to hear news from Washington, D.C., where the Supreme Court justices would hear arguments both in favor and against DACA.
“You can’t help but feel a certain way about all the power that these people hold to make changes in my life or in other DACA recipients like myself,” Gasca said.
It could be several months before the Supreme Court reaches a decision.
“I have a daughter, she’s two years old, and I need to make sure I make enough to make sure I’m able to provide for her, and those things don’t wait until my permit gets renewed or until I’m able to obtain a legal status in this country,” Gasca said.
Gasca said her parents were very open with her and she knew about her undocumented status growing up. While some high school students worried about getting their driver’s licenses, she had other concerns.
“I would think to myself, ‘If I can’t pursue a higher education– if I can’t work on something that I love or that I like, what am I gonna do? Am I gonna go back to a country that I hardly know?’” she said.
She graduated high school in 2012, the same year President Barack Obama announced the program DACA.
“That was life-changing,” Gasca said. “I saw this as an opportunity to keep going forward and not give up on my dreams just because of my legal status.”
Around 800,000 people benefit from DACA. Fresno City Council estimates 5,000 are college students and workers in Fresno. The program gives undocumented immigrants a work permit and protects them from deportation, but it does not grant them eligibility for financial aid.
“I would help my mom clean houses,” Gasca said. “So we would clean houses and I knew that in order for me to go to college, there’s no financial aid available for undocumented students, so I knew that I was gonna have to work.”
On September 5, 2017, President Donald Trump’s administration announced an end to the program. More than two years later, the fate of DACA remains in limbo.
“I feel like a lot of people don’t realize that many DACA recipients are professionals and we are working on jobs that we love,” Gasca said. “It’s not also just being worried about how to provide but also all this work behind the scenes that we’ve done to make sure that we get the jobs that we love to do, and to know that could be taken away at any minute because we don’t know if we’re going to get our permits renewed.”
For the 800,000 people like Gasca who depend on DACA, their futures remain uncertain until the Supreme Court can reach a decision.
“It’s more than just a permit,” Gasca said. “This is our lives you’re talking about, this is my daughter’s life you’re talking about, this is my parents’ lives we’re talking about, so it doesn’t just impact one person, it impacts the whole family.”