The U.S. Supreme Court looks like it will not yet take action on the White House's request to review a lower court ruling that allows the DACA program to stay in place. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was started under then President Barack Obama with bipartisan support. It lets people in good standing who are brought to the U.S. as children come out of the shadows and live without fear of deportation. President Donald Trump has fought in court to end the program while simultaneously using it as a bargaining chip, offering to extend it in exchange for money for his border wall. A bill to that end is set to be introduced on the Senate floor by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this week. Congressional Democrats have been saying Trump's offer is a nonstarter. They have plans to introduce their own competing legislation.
Caught up in all this are DACA recipients themselves, and one of them is 23-year-old Allie Rojas, who spoke with WGBH'sAll Things Considered just a year ago, when DACA was being used by Trump as leverage for his wall. Rojas was born in Mexico and is now living in Everett. She is a full-time student at UMass Boston. Rojas spoke again with WGBH All Things Considered anchor Barbara Howard. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Barbara Howard: When we spoke a year ago, Trump's line was basically, 'Give me the wall money or I’m going to do away with DACA.' That was just a year ago, during budget negotiations. Have things gotten better or worse for you since then?
Allie Rojas: I think things have gotten better. I've been more realistic about how fast things are going to move along now.
Howard: Were you more in a panic back then?
Rojas: I think I was more naive, thinking that the resolution was going to come fast. And now I've just settled on the idea that we may be stuck in this situation for a while, and I'm just trying to do the best I can while I'm able to.
Howard: Are you prepared if you had to go back to Mexico?
Rojas: I'm not, I'm not prepared at all.
Howard: It could happen.
Rojas: I guess I've conditioned myself not to think about it until after I graduate. It's something that's on the back burner for me.
Howard: How close are you to finishing up?
Rojas: Actually, I'm going to be finishing up this fall. I only have three more classes and I'll be done.
Howard: Congratulations. I know you were in a rush to get that done, for fear of perhaps getting deported, and then you wouldn't have your degree.
Rojas: Yes, that was one of the big fears, to not be able to finish college before being sent back to Mexico, if that happens.
Howard: You were brought to the U.S. from Mexico by your mother, along with your little sister. You were what, four years old?
Rojas: Yes, that's correct. I was four.
Howard: Have you ever been back to Mexico? Do you have any community, friends, relatives there?
Rojas: I do have distant family. I'm not very close to them at all.
Howard: Have you ever been back?
Rojas: No, I haven't.
Howard: Is that an option, to go back?
Rojas: That's not an option. I won't be able to come back if I do.
Howard: With your mother effectively out of the picture, how do you and your sister support yourselves?
Rojas: I currently have two jobs right now, and I do merit scholarships for school, basically. I’m just working and paying out of pocket and trying to get as many scholarships as possible.
Howard: Do you qualify for scholarships? Does your status as a DACA recipient impede that?
Rojas: Yes. I can only qualify for private scholarships or merit scholarships that don't require citizenship status. We're not eligible for federal aid.
Howard: What is your DACA status right now?
Rojas: Right now, I’m a current DACA recipient and I'll be able to apply in two more years once my DACA expires, if the program is still available.
Howard: And the program of course is being litigated in court, now. President Trump has tried to do away with it, and that's been challenged. But how has living in this kind of limbo affected you personally?
Rojas: I'm just really fortunate to be able to be here with you today. Last year I didn't know if that was going to be an option. So we just take it day by day, and pay attention to the news, and pretty much just stay really vigilant that the program doesn't go away.
Howard: Well now you're coming out on the radio like this. Does that worry you? Being so public about your situation?
Rojas: It doesn't worry me. I think what has to happen will happen, and I want to fight for my community. I want to bring awareness.
Howard: Well there are, what, thousands of DACA recipients in Massachusetts. One number has upwards of 8,000. And at UMass Boston, you're pretty involved in the immigrant rights community. How many DACA recipients are students there, at UMass Boston?
Rojas: Around 45 students that I know of.
Howard: Have you heard from them? What is their situation? Are they above-ground, underground? Do they talk about it?
Rojas: Some choose to handle it in different ways. There is one student that I knew and I didn't find out about until much later, even though she knew I was open — she didn't feel comfortable. There's some that find it shameful, or they're really quiet about it.
Howard: Let's be clear: DACA is for young people who are vetted. I mean, you're model citizens, in other words. You wouldn't get DACA status without that.
In the past, early on, President Trump was very supportive. He came out praising DACA recipients as model citizens. But then just a year ago, there was a threatened government shutdown — without that wall, he would withdraw the DACA program. He was asked by a reporter, 'Do you want citizenship for Dreamers, for DACA recipients?' And here's what Trump said:
“It's going to happen at some point in the future, over a period of 10 to 12 years. If somebody does a great job, they've worked hard. It gives incentive to do a great job,” Trump said.
Howard: Do you buy that? That was a year ago.
Rojas: I don't buy that. It's not a priority for them at this time, unfortunately.
Howard: Do you wish the Democrats would bend on this and get the DACA thing pushed through?
Rojas: No, I don't. No.
Howard: That's 23-year-old Allie Rojas. She's a DACA recipient living in Everett. We've been checking in with her from time to time. The president's offer to extend DACA in return for border wall funding was weakened by the U.S. Supreme Court today, with the court taking no action on an injunction that keeps the program in place for now. This is WGBH’s All Things Considered.