In-depth: Oakland school employee on DACA fears deportation, been in US since she was 5

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OAKLAND (KRON) — A budget deal was reached in the Senate on Wednesday with no DACA deal, prompting House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to give a speech totaling more than 8 hours.

We often think of Dreamers as college students, but there are thousands of educators who are at risk of deportation.

Many of them are right here in the Bay Area.

One dreamer wants to focus on giving back to Oakland, the community she grew up in.

“You are looking at me and my sister,” DACA recipient Joanna Santillian said.

Santillian was 5 years old when she was brought to Oakland from Mexico back in 1998, which makes her a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, recipient and a Dreamer.

This is the only country she knows

“I have been here for 20 years,” Santillian said. “I really don’t remember anything from my time in Mexico. This is where I got all my opportunities and my education.”

After graduating from Coliseum Prep Academy High School in Oakland, Santillian continued her education at UC Berkeley as a double major and graduated with degrees in Spanish and society and environment.

She returned to her high school alma mater and works as a member of the support staff for teachers and students.

“They refer to us as criminals but we are not,” Santillian said. “We are actually offering education to our students and future generations. There are people who are providing safety for our community, some of them are doctors. We are offering service to America.”

However, depending on what happens in Washington, her dreams of becoming a teacher in America could come to an end if she and her family are deported.

“Every day you wake up, it is like constantly living in fear,” Santillian said. “Anything could happen. You never know.”

That anxiety would be removed for thousands of DACA recipients working in the teaching field if President Trump reaches an immigration deal with Democrats.

“When I see this mural, it actually gives me energy to see how the community came together,” Santillian said.

Painted by students, Santillian says the mural gives her a daily emotional pick-me-up

“It gives me motivation,” Santillian said. “I do have hope. We are still here, and we are going to fight for it. I have a right to claim this place as my home. I am Mexican, and I am an American as well.”

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