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Reeling From Harvey, A DACA Recipient In Houston Worries About Her Future

Stella M. Chavez
Karen Le, 27, is a DACA recipient in Houston.

Immigrant evacuees in Houston are already struggling to rebuild their lives after Harvey. Now, some are worried about their future after President Trump’s decision to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. 

Karen Le, who’s attending graduate school in Houston, knew DACA wasn’t a permanent solution. But, the timing of this latest announcement angers her. She’s tired and still reeling from impact of Harvey.

And now this.

“It is definitely heartless," Le says. "This will go down on history, and it’s not going to look pretty in history books no matter what.”

Aside from water leaks, Le’s Houston apartment wasn’t damaged in the storm. Her mother and two sisters left their mobile home before Harvey hit. Her dad stayed, but had to swim away with their five dogs after the home was swamped.

The 27-year-old is worried about her family. She’s been trying to convince them to stay with her and her husband while their home is repaired.

“We don’t have any money right now, so we had to do an online fundraiser for them," she says. "Man, I’m thankful that people were very kind and donated, so we’re going to be able to get that fixed pretty soon.”

She was born in Hidalgo, Mexico. Her father came to the U.S. first to find work. The family followed. Le was 10 when she arrived.

She and her sisters earned DACA protection, which keeps them from being deported and allows them to work.

Le blames both political parties for the country’s immigration woes.

“The Democrats set up the mass deportation machine that the Republicans now have. They also asked for our information in exchange of working permits," she says. "So they are just as much guilty. It’s the whole political system that is not working.”

Le’s currently enrolled in the art department at the University of Houston, and she works for a union that represents sanitation workers.

She says she doesn’t want anyone to destroy her dreams.

“I know I have everything stacked up against me, but I also a beautiful community here in Houston and in this county that loves me, that knows I have fought for them.”

For now, she says she’ll continue fighting for herself and other DACA recipients, starting with a protest Tuesday night.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.