Local DACA Recipient Fights to Keep Dreams Alive
PULLMAN, WA —
Maria Yepez knows the value of a good educaton. She's worked hard to get to Washington State University and is looking forward to one day working in human resources.
But with a dealine on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, looming, her future is uncertain.
Maria's story, like so many dreamers, starts with a journey. From Mexico to America.
Maria says, "We got passed by what's called a coyote. In the beginning we were sleeping with chickens while starving."
She was nine years old. Maria says, "I got here without knowing English. I went into a classroom not knowing exactly what I was here for."
She worked hard. Then it came time to apply for college. That's when Maria discovered she was one of the roughly 1.8 million immigrants illegally brought into the U.S. as children.
Now with the DACA benefits that allow her to stay in the states set to expire a year before she graduates, she's fighting for a permanent solution to keep her dreams alive.
"Since November I have been going to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the DREAM Act," she explains. She's been speaking with members of Congress, asking for them to vote down any spending bill that doesn't include the act. She says without that kind of protection in place, she'll always have an expiration date hanging over her head.
"The DREAM act would create a pathway to citizenship, unlike DACA, and would also not criminalize our parents or put them in danger of deportation," she says.
Maria is the first of her family to go to college, but not the last. Her sister is now pursuing a degree and their 15 year old brother, who now can't apply for DACA, wants to become an engineer.
They hope to one day be able to thank their parents for giving them the opportunity to dream.
Maria says, "I want to give back to them what they did for me because I'm here getting an education that I couldn't have been able to get in my country."
Some of Maria's dreams include becoming a U.S. citizen and one day helping her father open a restaurant.