SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California is home to more than 200,000 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — more than a quarter of the national number.
Fatima Diaz said she has no memory of her life in Mexico. She moved to the U.S. with her family at just 11 months old.
“I’ve spent a good portion of my life not knowing that I was undocumented,” Diaz told FOX40. “So when I found out, it was kind of hard for it to sink in.”
The now 23-year-old recalled standing up with her classmates every morning to pledge allegiance to the flag like many other American citizens.
But Diaz is not a citizen, she’s a “Dreamer.” She’s one of the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the country as children.
Right now, she’s protected from deportation by DACA, which is an Obama-era executive order.
But now, the Trump administration wants to phase out the program. This week, the fate of “Dreamers” like Diaz is in the hands of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices who will decide whether efforts to cancel the policy are constitutional.
“A lot of my DACA peers are definitely anxious at that fact that our futures are in limbo,” Diaz said.
Co-founder of California Dreamers Tomas Evangelista traveled from Auburn to the nation’s capital, advocating for DACA recipients like him.
“A lot of us are very nervous and that’s why many of us, hundreds of us, are here right now. And a hundred more will join us tomorrow to be in front of the Supreme Court,” he told FOX40.
Evangelista’s mother brought him to the U.S. when he was just 2 years old. Like Diaz, America is the only home he’s ever known.
“Northern California is home to me and that’s why I’m fighting for this,” Evangelista said.
Through DACA, Evangelista and Diaz are able to work legally in the U.S. and contribute to the local economy. But that could all change depending on the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“It’s just frightening to know that all of that is being put at risk,” Diaz said.
Diaz is just two semesters shy of graduating with a degree in child development from Sacramento State. She said she hopes to finish what she started and turn her dream of becoming a teacher and American citizen into a reality.
“We’re trying to make something out of our lives in order to improve our communities,” she said. “We’re just like everybody else.”
Federal appeals courts across the country have rejected efforts to terminate the DACA program but the Supreme Court will have the final say. A decision is expected before summer 2020, right before the presidential election.