The Supreme Court ruling earlier this month that permitted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to continue eased Exequiel Avila’s fears he would be deported.
Avila was brought to the United States at age 10 by his mother and uncle with the help of a coyote who smuggled them across the Mexican border.
Avila qualified for DACA, a federal immigration program created by President Barack Obama in 2012. It allows individuals who came to the United States with their parents as children to stay, go to school and work for a limited time.
“We came to the U.S. not because we wanted but because our parents wanted a better future for me and my sister,” said Avila, who is now 25.
The Avila family mirrors the concerns of nearly 670,000 other DACA recipients that came seeking a better future.
Avila, who is in his third year as a psychology student at Miami Dade College, works at a construction site.
“DACA allowed me to be part of the community and not feel like an outsider,” said Avila.
Avila is from Honduras. He lived in constant fear after President Trump tried to end DACA.
DACA recipients were close to losing all their DACA benefits after President Trump attempted to eliminate the program in 2017 by claiming it was unconstitutional.
“I was afraid that one day my family and I would have been deported, and we would have lost everything we have worked for,” said Avila.
Ojillo Rodriguez, who entered the country with his family when he was 12, is one of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Rodriguez’s DACA application was rejected in 2013.
“The immigration department told me I didn’t have enough information to qualify for DACA,” said Rodriguez, who is now 33.
Rodriguez, who is from Mexico, plans to resubmit his DACA application in the coming months.
“I hope this time my application is not rejected,” said Rodriguez.