To honor DACA’s fifth anniversary, the ACLU of Illinois has launched a storytelling project featuring DACA recipients. We hope that by telling these stories, we give agency to more people to tell their own story and challenge the harmful rhetoric coming from the Trump Administration. Here is our last story of this series:

ESTEFANIA

When I was little, I remember going with my parents to the doctor to translate for them. I was a little kid translating important medical advice and terms to my parents. This experience inspired me to pursue a career in medicine. I would like to be an internal medicine doctor. I would like to work closely with Latino communities while at the same time addressing the many socioeconomic barriers to quality healthcare that these communities face. I hope to work closely with patients, help them get involved in their own health and well-being, and build close connections with the community. My goal is to synchronize social justice, public health, and medicine in my career.

DACA has granted me the opportunity to pursue a higher education and explore all kinds of opportunities. Not only has it allowed me to become the first person in my family to graduate from college but it has also allowed me to participate in opportunities such as presenting my research at national conferences, shadowing physicians in hospitals, and also volunteering at my local community clinic. DACA, overall, will allow me to continue pursuing my interests as a life-long learner, and continue making contributions in my community. All of the opportunities I have been part of because of DACA is what has helped me develop into an individual that continuously seeks to grow, learn, and challenge herself.

Before DACA, I was working at a restaurant where I was underpaid and was sexually harassed without being able to do anything about it. Being undocumented leaves you vulnerable to all kinds of exploitation and abuse. It means that others can take advantage of you and threaten you without you being able to stand up for yourself.

After getting DACA, I quit that job and found a job where I was respected and my work is valued. If DACA was to be repealed, it would be the end to my career aspirations. I would be immediately disqualified from everything I’ve worked so hard to pursue: medical school, traveling, a living wage, etc. I would be a college educated individual that will likely not be able to have a job or pursue her career goals. I would go back to feeling vulnerable all the time, after fighting so hard to get away from that feeling.

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