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DACA Recipients Uncertain Of Their Status As Congress Works On Potential Deal


Now we're going to talk to someone who relies on the DACA program, Juan de la Rosa Diaz. His parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 5 years old. And when my co-host Ari Shapiro first met him a year ago, he was a student at Virginia Tech. Now he's a college graduate and has a job at Virginia Tech in university admissions. We talked to him last September just after the president announced he would end the DACA program.


JUAN DE LA ROSA DIAZ: I don't think that I feel like the full impact or the full brunt of this announcement yet. I think I just have to begin preparing for March 5 being the new deadline. And I think, like, six months from now, normalcy will be very different than what it is now.

MCEVERS: And Juan de la Rosa Diaz is with us now. Welcome to the show.

DIAZ: Oh, it's my pleasure.

MCEVERS: So I mean, it hasn't been quite six months since then, but we're wondering. What's it been like for you to watch people in Congress and people in the White House debating about this program - you know, this program that is pretty important to your life?

DIAZ: It's definitely stressful. I think that if I was uncertain of what the future was going to hold back in September, I would say rather than having a more clear picture of what the future holds, it's even more unclear now.

MCEVERS: Yeah. Can you tell us about your current status with the program, if you don't mind?

DIAZ: So after the interview, I did have a renewal that I sent in. So that was back in September. And I actually received my latest renewal at the beginning of November of last year. So I'm actually covered by my DACA status until November 2019 as of now.

MCEVERS: OK, so you've got two years basically. And this is how it works, right?

DIAZ: Yes.

MCEVERS: You have to get renewed every two years. So you were already in the process of doing that. What are you thinking about after November 2019? Like, how do you imagine that?

DIAZ: After November 2019, I've definitely thought about it a lot, especially in the immediate future - what I'm going to do. So right now, I'm in the admissions office at Virginia Tech, but I don't know - as much as I love the admissions world - if that's going to be a possibility in November of 2019. Especially Virginia Tech being a public institution, trying to be in accordance with the federal laws, I don't know if I'll still be at Virginia Tech.

So at this point, the one sort of fallback plan that I've always had was - I've always talked about going to graduate school. And if I don't have the ability to work, I think graduate school would be the thing that I would try to do immediately after losing my status.

MCEVERS: So you know other DACA students. What are you hearing from them?

DIAZ: A lot of students are out there. A lot of DACA recipients are out there, involved and trying to make a change with the DACA advocacy that's going on in Washington, D.C., right now. But in a lot of ways, a lot of other DACA recipients are just trying to survive.

And I have the good fortune of having my DACA status until November of 2019, but that does - isn't necessarily the same case for everyone. And I think that just like how I'm thinking about my future, what job or what title I'm going to hold in November of 2019, a lot of students are going to - having to grapple with that earlier, as soon as the summer of this year, if not in March of this year at the earliest.

MCEVERS: Do you think Congress will come up with a solution for this?

DIAZ: I'm hoping they do. I honestly think that there will be a solution that would happen, but I think that the time in which a solution occurs is definitely going to affect what exactly that solution will look like.

MCEVERS: Yeah. What do you think that will look like?

DIAZ: Right now what I'm hopeful for is the passing of what we call a clean DREAM Act, so a clean DREAM Act being a DREAM Act with some sort of permanent status for DACA recipients that isn't tied to any sort of border security measures. But I don't see the possibility of a clean DREAM Act happening beyond January 19. So if a clean DREAM Act isn't included in the bill to keep the government funded, I think that whatever deal might be on DACA definitely is going to have a component tied to it with border security.

MCEVERS: In the past few days, we've heard a lot about the president's comments - right? - about immigrants, people who come from places like Africa and Haiti. What do you think about that?

DIAZ: I don't know if I felt any differently. I think that a lot of the suspicions or a lot of the sort of thoughts I had about President Trump and the way that he views people from these sorts of countries - I think this was only a confirmation of the ideas or the suspicions that I had about how he felt about individuals like that. And as much as, like, it hurt to hear those comments, I don't think that I was surprised by them.

MCEVERS: Juan de la Rosa Diaz, thank you so much for your time today.

DIAZ: Oh, it's always my pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.