Job hunting and interviewing are already nerve-wracking and stressful challenges. But for the estimated 98,000 undocumented students with and without DACA status who graduate from high school every year, looking for a job and embarking on a career path comes with additional responsibilities and risks.
Since former President Barack Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program into law in 2012, many of the 700,000 people currently active in the program have graduated schools and become undocumented professionals.
Designed for immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, DACA provides relief from deportation and a work permit that needs to be renewed every two years, but it does not provide a pathway to citizenship or access to most government benefits, and its future is uncertain. The Trump administration ordered an end to the DACA program in September 2017, and the Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case in November.
It’s under this cloud that undocumented professionals live and work every day as they apply for jobs and plan their futures. How can anyone plan a career when facing possible deportation?
Harvard University sociologist Roberto Gonzales, who has interviewed thousands of DACA-eligible undocumented youth for his research, said they’ve been experiencing increasing worry about their families and futures since 2017. “They’re at a real crossroads and in a profound state of limbo,” he said.
“Our life continues to be on hold,” said Sharet Garcia, a DACA recipient who is the founder of Undocuprofessionals, an Instagram page that highlights their stories. “They don’t understand how much they’re playing with our lives.”