By Elena Shore
SAN DIEGO – Two weeks before Election Day, immigrant rights advocates have an urgent message for undocumented immigrants: Now is the time to secure your future.
“You start to become a part of the community, being able to get out of the house without fear of being pulled over and asked for your papers,” said Ruben Alan Casas Espino about his experience with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
The federal program, launched in 2012, allows those who came to the country before the age of 16 to get temporary, renewable protection from deportation, and access to a work permit and social security number.
Casas Espino didn’t finish high school, but he was able to apply for DACA because he has his GED (high school equivalency) certificate, which is enough to meet the program’s educational requirements.
Since his DACA application was approved in 2013, Casas Espino says his life has been “completely transformed.”
He spoke Friday at a media roundtable organized by New America Media in collaboration with Alliance San Diego and the statewide collaborative Ready California.
“In a political climate marked by xenophobia, there’s an urgency to make sure immigrants can seek programs to protect themselves,” said NAM’s Odette Keeley, who moderated the discussion.