This University of Florida Student is About To Graduate Thanks To DACA

Mariana Castro serves asPresident of CHISPAS, a student-led organization at the University of Florida that works to advocate for immigrants across the state.

Mariana Castro has not seen her father since leaving Peru in 2005. The young immigrant, a current student at the University of Florida, described being lonely upon arriving to the United States in a short essay published in the New York Times Opinion section:

I understood things will be different, we would be alone, but yet the atmosphere in Florida felt safer. I quickly adapted to the American educational system easing my way out of ESOL and into advanced classes. Growing up undocumented, I was unsure about my future. I knew that regardless of my excellent grades, involvement, and community service my status would impact, or potentially stop my education.

Ignoring the limitations that her lack of immigration status imposed on her, Mariana channeled her passion for academics and sought to pursue a degree in Biology at one of Florida’s top universities. For her, DACA was a light at “the end of the tunnel”:

I was able to provide for my family, obtain a job, and no longer live in the shadows. I graduated from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program with the state’s highest academic scholarship and chose the University of Florida to be my home for the next four years.

The DACA program currently benefits hundredths of thousands of students across the country, who just like Mariana, have gone to school, obtained their first job, and made investments in their local communities.

According to a new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), termination of the DACA program would reduce the United States’ GDP by $433.4 billion over the following 10 years.

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