On the Importance of DACA: Valentina’s Story

At the age of 3, Valentina came to the United States from Peru without any knowledge of her citizenship status. Valentina is currently pursuing a bachelor’s in computer science while working as a Data Systems Engineering intern.

She explained that her parents lacked employment opportunities and financial stability in Peru. Valentina said that growing up, she did not know she was undocumented for a long time until she had to apply for DACA. “I felt no difference. I felt like I was like everybody else, but when it came to applying for colleges I saw how limited we are in terms of educational resources such as scholarships and applying for jobs.” Valentina said it wasn’t until college where she found people with DACA who had similar struggles and could bond with them about their shared experiences.

As she waits for the Supreme Court’s decision on the status of DACA, she explains the stress that comes with the uncertainty of what will happen, Valentina said, “I’ve been here for almost 18 years and I feel like I am just as much as everybody else who has been living here all their lives. It’s frustrating because I never really know what will happen to my future which can be taken away at any time.”

Despite her frustrations, Valentina explains that she is fortunate to have DACA, she said, “It’s worrying at times, but I am happy I do have DACA because I have the opportunity to work and a lot of other undocumented people do not.”

Valentina said DACA has allowed her to work and pursue bigger goals, which is the main reason her parents came to the United States. DACA gives Valentina work authorization for her internship, which then allows her to pay her tuition and all of her living costs. In the future, she wants to be able to take care of her parents and help her brother go to school, so it is important for her to continue having a valid work permit.

Valentina said her goal is to finish school and get a full-time job in software engineering. She also wants to keep growing in her career field and one day create her own company that develops apps. Valentina will continue working all summer and building on her dreams while she waits to find out what will happen to her future, along with many other immigrants.

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The mission of Just Neighbors is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, especially those who are most vulnerable. We also seek to foster enriching experiences that enhance awareness and mutual understanding among our clients, volunteers, staff and community.

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