Home » Campus » Through DACA, an Ohio State student “could be somebody, not just somebody invisible”

Through DACA, an Ohio State student “could be somebody, not just somebody invisible”

Lidia Garcia, a first-year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, has benefitted from DACA. Her ability to stay in the U.S. may soon be in jeopardy due to Tuesday’s announcement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump administration is rescinding the policy. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller Reporter

Seventeen years ago, a young lawyer and his pregnant wife decided to leave their home in northern Mexico with their nearly 2-year-old daughter to begin a life in Columbus.

Their second daughter was born a United States citizen three months after the illegal move. Their first, Lidia Garcia, grew up undocumented, remembering about as little of Mexico as her younger sister, without enjoying the benefits of citizenship.

As a teenager, Garcia applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Obama administration created via executive order in 2012 to provide young people illegally brought to the U.S. as children temporary protection from deportation and the ability to acquire work permits.

“With DACA, I was able to do things that I never would have been able to do,” Garcia said. “I could be somebody, not just somebody invisible, but I could be somebody in life and in society.”

Now a first-year Ohio State student in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, Garcia hopes to become an optometrist.

Those hopes might be dashed, however, because of the Trump administration’s decision to dismantle DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday the Trump administration will rescind DACA, effective March 5, 2018, when recipients will begin losing their status.

To me, even these first few days of college is like a blessing because I never knew anyone who went to college and who was undocumented. Just to attend college, I never knew if it was going to be possible. – Lidia Garcia

DACA’s end follows the threat of legal action by several Republican attorneys general in June. They said if the Trump administration hadn’t terminated the program by Sept. 5, they would add challenge it in court.

“As the Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld,” Sessions said during his announcement. “To have a lawful system of immigration that serves the national interest, we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here. That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.”

Despite the gravity of the situation, Garcia remains hopeful, praying that decisions made in the White House will raise public awareness about situations like hers. With pressure from the public, she hopes to see something positive grow out of the negative.

Garcia said the end of DACA “could be the beginning of something better, maybe even a path to citizenship.”

She said she isn’t necessarily sad to see the program go, “Because the truth is, I’ve lived as an undocumented immigrant the majority of my life.”

Although DACA has given Garcia hope for a future in the United States, it hasn’t made her life easy, especially as an incoming college student.

“When I went to college, I had no financial aid. Nothing. Zero. Everything was out of pocket,” she said.

Although Ohio is one of 20 states to grant DACA beneficiaries in-state tuition, the price of higher education remains steep, especially for someone like Garcia, who lives with a single, working mother. As a result, while applying to college, Garcia said she grew increasingly frustrated with Ohio State’s pledged commitment to “access, affordability and excellence.”

Lidia Garcia, a first- year in women’s, gender and sexuality studies applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as a teenager. Credit: Sheridan Hendrix | Oller Reporter

That is, until 4 p.m. on Sept. 1, when she received a call from Bowen Marshall, the DACA liaison for the Office of Student Life Multicultural Center. Marshall told her that as a low-income DACA student she would be receiving financial aid from the OSU Scholarship Fund to cover half of her tuition costs.

“I was in shock that a public institution would actually fight for our rights and say that you deserve an education as well,” she said. “It actually makes me happy to go to an institution that says, ‘We care about you.’”

The university does not keep track of how many DACA students attend Ohio State, so Garcia does not know if other DACA students have received similar funding. She was told, however, that whatever happens with DACA nationally, the university will continue working for Ohio State’s DACA students.

For now, Garcia is thankful just to be attending college.

“Education is the first step to becoming somebody in life, to escape the circle of poverty, to escape the circle of being taken advantage of,” she said. “To me, even these first few days of college is like a blessing because I never knew anyone who went to college and who was undocumented. Just to attend college, I never knew if it was going to be possible.”

19 comments

  1. Why glorify and reward the fact that for 17 years her parents and her have been breaking our laws?.

  2. An Average American with Immigrant Family Members

    The DACA program is an affront to legal immigrants who worked hard to gain citizenship. Just yesterday one of my students told me he was sworn in as an American citizen last week. It took him five years and he applied for and maintained legal status the entire time.

    There is no excuse for illegal immigrants to cheat the system, effectively penalizing those who follow the law and do it right.

    Our country has a right and an obligation to limit immigrants to those who respect our laws and are intent on assimilating into our society, in terms of beliefs, language and culture. They must be willing to work at jobs that make them self-sufficient and able to contribute as taxpayers.

    This is both a moral and legal obligation by any would-be immigrant. If not, then this is not the country they belong.

  3. There has to be law. Other sob stories of immigrants that actually follow the law, I have sympathy for. Don’t blame Trump. He’s actually trying to get lawmakers to do their job. Blame Obama, Bush and congress for decades of doing nothing. Liberals love to complain. Follow the laws. I care about Americans getting govt and taxpayer benefits. I can’t take my kids to Mexico and demand anything or cry for anything. I have to follow their laws

  4. She won’t be anything with a Womens’s and gender studies degree! Might as well save us all the headache and ship her out now

    • Optometry school is very hard to get into, but she probably figures, and probably correctly, that her special status will put her ahead of an American student with a 4.0 in molecular biology. May as well just do Women’s and Gender Studies instead of working hard.

  5. Education is the first step to becoming somebody in life, to escape the circle of poverty.
    Improve your langauge skills with Spanish to English translation

  6. We have laws and a constitution. If not enforced, they fail to exist. That said, President Trump did this young woman and others like her a favor. President Obama’s TEMPORARY executive order would have been struck down by the courts had President Trump not put the process in motion to push the Congress to legally resolve this issue.

    • “Legally resolve this issue.” What issue? The legal resolution would be to enforce our existing laws. Those who are here illegally should either “self-deport” or once identified, be deported … Period. “DACA” was an unconstitutional “order” by president Obama. It has never been lawful nor are those mentioned in the unlawful order.

  7. Lidia Garcia is so brave to speak out and share her experiences with all of us. This is the hard, not the easy way, and I applaud her for her willingness to speak out. We as a university community have an obligation to protect her and other DACA students from the kind of black and white thinking so many of the other commenters seem to be engaging in. People are people. Children raised in the United States have been raised to have the same aspirations as those who were born here. They ought to also have the opportunity to strive to be the best they can be.

    • Her whole life has been nothing but 1 theft after another, the latest is the slot at osu that she has stolen from a citizen, possibly a resident of ohio, who was just as deserving but didn’t meet the diversity check boxes that she did. We have no obligation to those that are unable to respect and follow our laws and our sovereignty.

    • Katherine, as I think about your post more and more, I find it really hard to fathom why we are “obligated” to her in any way or form. Please explain how her and her parents circumventing our laws for so many years creates any obligation by our gov’t, university, or law abiding citizens for anything but a date in court.

  8. Are her illegal parents deported yet? This was just a backdoor way from not deporting them either, Daca’s need someone to raise them!

  9. Fallacies & horrors in this story are immense. Lawyer father yet he knowingly invades the united States illegally. The claim that her younger sister is “a citizen” is next. Anchor babies are not legal citizens. That unconstitutional recognition has never been legal and congress needs to say so. Is her father practicing law in the united states? I surely hope not. No one who ever entered the united States illegally, or consciously over stayed their Visa, should ever be granted citizenship. The united States of America has always had the most generous & compassionate laws for legal immigration of any nation on earth. We need not apologize for insisting “immigrants” arrive and remain, legally. Consider this absurd hypothetical; 300 million Chinese couples [one pregnant] walk across our southern border so their illegal children are born here. We make all those children citizens and allow their illegal parents to remain here. However, this isn’t an absurd hypothetical, only the numbers & scale are. Wake Up Folks!

  10. 17 years from now without president Trump’s work this story will still repeat 100s fold.

  11. The comments left here are astoundingly conservative. Where did your grandparents or great grandparents come from? Were they all “documented”? I bet you would be surprised–and I also bet you would be amazed at the process and cost of becoming a US citizen. To the people who say “No one who ever entered the united States illegally, or consciously over stayed their Visa, should ever be granted citizenship” I’m guessing you don’t understand what it’s like to flee a country–because you have to. You should all seriously be ashamed of yourselves.

  12. They sure are conservative, Kim. I am an alumnus of this University, too. Come into our country LEGALLY, and all is well. This isn’t difficult to understand.

    OSU is a PUBLIC, TAXPAYER FUNDED University. It answers to me.

  13. Nowadays, the computer and telephone have become the main assistants for the students of various educational institutions. They can use cheap writing services, online lessons. There is a huge number of various training programs.

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