GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A Grand Valley State University student protected under DACA who says his life “changed for the better” after the program was created is now facing an uncertain future.
The Trump administration announced Tuesday its plans to end the program, giving Congress six months to come up with a legislative fix before the government stops renewing permits for people already covered by the program.
“My parents chose to come here, I did not choose to come here,” 22-year-old Juan Mascorro-Guerrero told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “It’s just, it’s crazy. Because I’ve followed the rules, I’ve followed the laws.”
Mascorro-Guerrero was just 6-years-old when his parents moved to the United States illegally, first to California but soon after to Middleville, after his dad found a job working on a farm.
He grew up thinking he was a U.S. citizen, but realized otherwise in high school.
“I remember when all my friends were trying to sign up for driver’s education, and I could not because I did not have a social security number.”
But in 2012, President Barack Obama used executive powers to create DACA, paving the way for Juan to get a work permit, a Social Security number and a driver’s license. He said that in turn allowed him to make money to be able to afford to attend GVSU.
He’s now a senior at the university and set to graduate in the spring.
“My life changed for the better,” Mascorro-Guerrero said of DACA’s impact. “I felt comfortable being in my community. I felt welcomed. I felt like I was finally living out my American dream.”
Mascorro-Guerrero has since worked with student Hispanic groups at both GRCC and GVSU. He also works to advocate for immigration reform.
But now, after the Trump administration announced its plans to rescind DACA, Mascorro-Guerrero is left frustrated and facing many unknowns.
“If Congress does nothing about creating some sort of legislation, it looks like I won’t be able to work. I won’t be able to drive. I’ll have to live my life kind of in fear every day of maybe getting arrested,” he said.
“But we’re going to keep fighting. That’s all we can do is keep fighting. Keep sharing our stories. Keep inspiring others. And try to create that change.”
Mascorro-Guerrero said under DACA, a major misconception is that he is able to qualify for federal aid or assistance. He said that is not the case and that his tuition has been covered entirely out of his pocket or by scholarships.
His permit under DACA expires in November of next year.