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All Things Considered

How Life Could Change For DACA Dreamers Under Trump Administration

Thousands of people could be affected when President Trump makes a decision about the future of DACA. NPR's Michel Martin talks with dreamer Nestor Nuñez Vasquez about how his life could change.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

As we just heard, President Trump is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday about DACA. That brings us to our regular segment Words You'll Hear. You'll certainly be hearing a lot about DACA and DREAMers in the coming days. The president promised repeatedly during his campaign to dismantle DACA, which, once again, stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. People covered by the action are often called DREAMers.

If he follows through, some 800,000 so-called DREAMers could be affected. And one of them is on the line with us now. Nestor Nunez Vasquez came to America when he was 10 years old. Today, he's 25. He's working part-time at a hospital and studying nursing at Southern Regional Technical College in Georgia, and he's with us now. Nestor, thanks so much for speaking with us.

NESTOR NUNEZ VASQUEZ: Thank you so much for having me.

MARTIN: Could you tell us briefly, like, what's your situation? Do you mind telling us a little bit more about why your family came to America? You know, how did you figure out that your status was that, you know, you were out of status, things like that?

VASQUEZ: Well, it all started really when my father was working in Mexico. It just so happened that he lost his job. He got laid off. And his brother, who had recently come to the United States visiting, decided, you know, there's a lot of people over here that are making a living. Maybe we should give it a shot.

So the timing just lined up perfectly. My dad decided to give it a shot. And he decided, you know what? We can make this work. We can definitely make this work. So after spending some time here in the United States by himself, he came back to Mexico. He got my mother and myself and brought us over. And we've been here ever since.

MARTIN: Do you remember knowing that your family was undocumented?

VASQUEZ: I do. It must have been a couple of years down the line before it finally dawned on me that I more or less was in a special situation, considering that it wasn't legal under - there wasn't certain things that I could do that some of my friends could, such as getting a driver's license, which seemed so simple to me.

MARTIN: So in recent days, as the White House announced that an announcement is coming on Tuesday, what's going through your mind? I mean, how are you handling this?

VASQUEZ: Well, for me, it happens to be particularly bad. I happen to just have reapplied for my renewal. And I got my letter for my biometrics the exact same day that Trump said Tuesday is going to be the final say. So for me, it more or less created an existential crisis. Same with all the other recipients, you know, because it just happened - it seemed to happen out of nowhere.

MARTIN: Well, this - since this was a campaign promise of the president's, this had to have been on your mind for a while. Can you just talk a little bit about, like, what you've been feeling and thinking over these months as you've waited for this decision?

VASQUEZ: Sure. When Trump was running for president, and when he finally got elected, I certainly was very, very scared. And so were many other people. We just - there was so much uncertainty, we just didn't know what was going to happen. And a lot of people were going even through the lengths of applying for the permit early, just planning for the worst-case scenario, essentially.

And it's just - it's been a terrible feeling of, you know, of dread and discomfort because you - it almost - it doesn't allow you to plan for the future when you're, you know, waiting for an impending doom that could practically happen at any moment.

MARTIN: Can you talk about, if you wouldn't mind, like, what is the worst-case scenario for you?

VASQUEZ: The worst-case scenario, in my mind, would be that on Tuesday, President Trump decides to dissolve DACA, which in my case would - worst-case scenario would mean that my renewal processing is automatically canceled because of that reason. And that I do not obtain a renewal, which means on December, I would lose my work permit. I would lose my job. I would lose my driver's license. And essentially, I would lose my ability to go to college as well. So in a nutshell, it would ruin my future.

MARTIN: Do you have a sense of what you might do if that occurs? Or have you not allowed yourself to think that?

VASQUEZ: You can kind of only prepare so much. I mean, I've minimized my spendings in case I need it, you know, the extra little bit of money to move or to stay at home, to kind of, you know, hide away, tuck away or whatever. It's just - it's really hard to plan because there's - like I said, there's so much uncertainty. We don't know if DACA's dissolved, what would happen to our work permits. Would they go with DACA as well, or would we be allowed to ride out the remaining period of our work permits? There's just too much uncertainty.

MARTIN: Well, thanks for talking with us about something that can't be easy to talk about. And obviously, it can't be easy to think about. But before we let you go, can I ask, do you have any friends who voted for President Trump that you're close enough to that you can talk to them about this who agrees with him or who voted for him and you can share your feelings and talk about it?

VASQUEZ: Yeah, I've got a couple of friends - close friends - that I've talked to about it. And it's just - what it boils down to, it's lack of information on both parties, really. Because I understand the Trump supporters that just - they believe that, you know, if you want to be in the country, you got to come in legally. You got to do it right. Which is, you know, it's perfectly respectable.

But it's just the situation is - it's very tricky because for me, it would entail uprooting my life, leaving the United States, going to Mexico, applying for even a work permit. And there's still uncertainty that I would even receive it. And that would be over a period of months, so it's very difficult.

MARTIN: That's Nestor Nunez Vasquez. He's been in the United States since he was a child. We reached him at his home in South Georgia. Nestor, thanks so much for speaking with us.

VASQUEZ: Thank you so much for the opportunity.



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