Juliana Ixcuna of New Bedford is on edge. She just finished her DACA renewal application, and is hoping for the best.
“I feel nervous, really. I feel nervous and I don’t know what [will] happen in the future," she said. "It’s a stress because you never know what [will] happen in the future.”
There are 5,900 DACA recipients in Massachusetts. Ixcuna is one of the 1,400 of those recipients in the state who are eligible to renew DACA for two years one last time before DACA is phased out. Today is the last day for recipients to submit their applications for renewal to immigration officials.
Ixcuna came to the country from Guatemala when she was 12 years old. She’s now 26. For much of her life, Ixcuna has been undocumented, but in the past few years she’s been able to work and get a driver’s license.
John Willshire Carrera is the lead attorney for Greater Boston Legal Services and Harvard’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic. He, along with his team, submitted Ixcuna’s final application. Carrera says he started the process with many DACA recipients and felt it was important to be a part of what is the final application for many.
“This was a very important piece for us because we did a lot of original applications. We did over 350," he said.
That was when DACA was first started in 2012. But during this last wave of renewals, Carrera says his staff only helped with 50 applications. He wonders if everyone who can renew has actually filed an application.
“This is a country that’s really included them, embraced them, and now, suddenly, because there’s a change in political climate, suddenly they’re being forced back into the shadows," he said.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it does not share DACA information with immigration enforcement — meaning is someone has not renewed their status, the information will not be passed over to start the deportation process, unless the person has committed a crime.
Ixcuna says she wants to stay, continue her education and raise her a 2-and-a-half-year-old son. She says she doesn't want to go back to her country, but she's worried she'll have no choice.