When President Trump announced his resolution to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama administration program that protects young undocumented immigrants, Sarahi Zavali was devastated.
“After my manager told me the news, I went on break, and I went to my car and cried,” said Zavali who works part-time at Gap Inc. while attending The University of Houston as a full-time student.
Sarahi Zavali is one of the 800,000 children who was brought to the United States illegally by their parents or relatives.
They begin to face the likelihood that they may be deported, starting March 2018.
When she was 2 years old, her mom brought her to Texas to reunite the family with her father who had made the trip first. Her parents wanted a better life for her in the United States.
“My mother did not want me to remember the conditions in which we lived in, so she brought me to live a better life in America,” she said.
“This is the first time I have ever spoken about it; I used to be so ashamed that I would steer conversations away about it when I was younger,” she said.
Many dreamers including Sarahi did not even recognize they were undocumented until they were teenagers.
Zavali realized she was a dreamer when she could not go out-of-town for a class field trip.
“Being undocumented you miss out on so many possibilities. I was valedictorian of my class, and meanwhile, other students at the bottom half of my class were getting full-rides to colleges, and that made me resentful back then.” Zavali said.
The conclusion of the program will influence more than 750,000 young people who have acquired work permits by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to either study or keep a job.
The licenses last two years and were renewable. Under Trump’s latest proposal, once a Dreamer’s work permit expires that person will be eligible for deportation, entirely phasing out the program by 2019.
Under the plan, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will conclude March 5, 2018.
The Department of Homeland Security will not approve new candidates for the program.
The approximately 800,000 people who remain currently shielded under the program will not see their standing change immediately but could be exposed to deportation if Congress does not pass legislation by March giving them protection.
The six-month deferral was thought to provide Congress ample time to replace the program with a permanent legislative solution.
Zavali plans to enroll in summer school, and have her bachelor’s degree completed before the fall semester of 2019.
The worse case scenario is that Zavala obtains her degree and is deported.
Ironically, Mexico her birthplace is a land foreign to her.
She has never met her relatives and has no memory of the country. The degree that she will have earned will be useless there.
“I have never met my aunts or uncles who live there. My biggest fear is graduating from here, being sent back and then having nothing to show for it,” she said.
Zavali keeps the faith that the government will come to a resolution and that everything will work out for the best.
She harbors no resentment or anger at the administration for the change in policy.
“I just don’t see myself leaving America, and I hold out hope. I am bilingual, so I feel that if America isn’t an option, then other countries will want to hire me. “