Hortencia Ortiz Reyes is among 800,000 people living in the United States whose lives have been affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Hortencia recently graduated from high school and is now living in Pittsburgh. She is 18.
The Dreamers, as DACA recipients are referred to, have felt protected by the program — until recently.
DACA, enacted in 2012 by former President Barack Obama, provides people who were brought to the United States as undocumented minors with privileges not afforded to other undocumented people in the country. DACA recipients can legally work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Most importantly, they’re temporarily protected from deportation. DACA recipients must renew their status every two years, a process that takes time (120-150 days) and is costly ($465). The protection DACA grants is temporary, but it has been the best option available for many young immigrants who have lived most of their lives in the United States.
In September, the Trump administration announced it would be discontinuing the program in six months. This gave Congress time to act, though it looks like the issue could be sending lawmakers toward a government shutdown in December.
Hortencia applied for the renewal of her DACA status before the Oct. 5 deadline set by the Trump administration. She has not yet received confirmation, which is expected to take 90 days. But even if her renewal is successful, her future beyond 2019, and that of some friends and family, remain uncertain.
For more on Hortencia and her journey, watch the video above.
Molly Duerig is a freelance journalist who also manages the Filmmakers Youth Media program at Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.