Thousands Of NC Residents Eligible For DACA Haven't Applied
Jessica Sanchez is 25 years old and has lived in Charlotte for most of her life. Her parents emigrated from Mexico when she was 11 months old because she needed surgery.
“I wouldn’t move or talk at all," Sanchez said. "So my doctors in Mexico said I wasn’t going to live past three days or three months. Or live, period.”
Sanchez was born with a condition called spina bifida, which means her spine formed outside of her body instead of inside. She said she had surgery in the U.S. when she was 3 years old. Doctors placed a tube called a shunt in her head to help drain fluid from in and around her brain. She now uses a wheelchair.
Sanchez is among the estimated 14,000 North Carolina residents who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, but haven’t yet applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Approximately 24,230 active DACA recipients live in the state, according to the latest federal data.
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Trump administration from ending the program, which allows certain people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to live and work in the country.
Sanchez, who graduated from Zebulon B. Vance High School in 2013 and has worked with the immigrant advocacy group Action NC, said she hasn’t yet applied because she wasn’t sure she was qualified. She was also having medical problems when the DACA program started in 2012.
But she was “happy and excited” about the Supreme Court decision.
“I saw it on my Facebook feed. I knew they were going to do it today, the vote. But I didn’t know the time they were going to do it. So I was just waiting for the results,” Sanchez said, adding that obtaining DACA would enable her to go to college and study law.
It would also make her health situation more bearable, Sanchez said. She is uninsured and does not have a social security number -- but filed taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number -- so she is ineligible to purchase health insurance on the exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.
“I would be able to get health care without being told ‘no.’ Because I’ve been told ‘no’ a lot of times,” she said.
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