DACA participant faces uncertainty with resolve, optimism

YesikaMartinezYesika Martinez looks into her future and dreams that she will someday serve others as a nurse or a counselor.

But her future possible self is on hold while she waits to see what comes next after the Trump administration’s recent directive to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in six months unless Congress comes up with a legislative solution.

Martinez, 25, has been in this country since she was 9 months old. She was born with spinal bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal canal doesn’t close before birth. Fearful her complex needs would not be met in their small community in Mexico, her parents moved to Tucson.

Growing up meant a lot of time in hospitals, with many surgeries, as well as extended physical and orthopedic therapy, and neurology and urology care. With the assistance of leg braces, she can walk, ride a bike and drive a car and is successfully working toward her career path.

Martinez watched her other friends in high school celebrate things like driver’s licenses and first jobs that were out of reach for someone with undocumented status.  Her parents instilled in her to believe that all things are possible and encouraged her growth.

When she turned 18, waiting to see if DACA participants would be eligible for in-state college tuition, she began volunteering at the Children’s Clinics, where she had received much of her care, in order to help other young patients going through other health care challenges.

In the afternoons, Martinez volunteered to teach violin to the afterschool mariachi group at her previous elementary school. “I couldn’t work, but I didn’t want to sit home. I wanted to do something with my life and contribute,” she said.

When DACA was passed, she was hired on at the Children’s Clinics as a clinical associate.

President Trump’s announcement, she said, “was a rough day for me because I know there are so many people in my same situation who don’t know what’s coming next.” Thanks to a recent renewal, her status is OK until early 2019, but she hopes a resolution will come long before then.

“What I think people don’t understand is that we go through a lengthy process to get permits,” she said. “We aren’t bad people. We’re working hard to go to school to try to contribute. I would ask this community to help fight for us and support us.”

TMC President and CEO Judy Rich recently wrote an opinion piece for the Arizona Daily Star, urging Congressional leaders to resolve DACA. Click here to read it. http://tucson.com/opinion/local/judy-rich-dreamers-make-our-workforce-stronger/article_7cdc96c8-9fb9-5435-957a-1893de6d62ce.html

 

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