‘We’re at the mercy of Trump’: Two Yale students on DACA left in limbo by Trump’s decision

‘The thought of having everything we’ve worked for taken away is frightening’


Two brothers studying at Yale are unsure about their immediate future because of Donald Trump's decision about DACA.

At a press conference just now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions denounced the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program as "unconstitutional" and said it will be rescinded as Congress works to replace it.

The government will no longer accept new applications from undocumented young people for DACA.

Now Yale students José Rodriguez, a junior Graphic Design major and his younger brother Carlos, an aspiring Political Science major, describe their reaction to today's move.

José Rodriguez

Everything's frustrating. I feel like this whole situation is unnecessary. The government had so much time to come up with a permanent solution that for us to be in this situation is ridiculous. It doesn't make any sense. It makes all of us feel powerless. We can't do much except share our story but that's about it. Especially for us who are undocumented, we're at the mercy of the government because we can't vote or choose who represents us. Hopefully something good comes out of this. But I'm in the dark like most people.

Not knowing what's going to happen is frustrating. Those of us on DACA can really only plan our lives two years at a time. We don't know if someone's going to remove the program. Not knowing if it's going to be here in the future is dehumanizing. You're really at the mercy of someone else. It's sad to see a lot of people having to go through this. It looks like we're all going backward.

DACA for me is a sense of opportunity. I had always grown up with the illusion of going to college and getting a degree and working afterwards. But up until 2012 that was just a dream. After DACA, it gave me a second wind. It made me really focus on school and set higher, more ambitious goals for myself. Now I'm here and checking things off that list and making things happen for me and my family and have that be so dependent on DACA is really great. The thought of that being taken away is really frightening.

There is a lot of miseducation on what it means to be undocumented or have DACA status. I think that's why a lot of people want to get rid of the program. They see someone like me coming along and getting this free pass and we get to do whatever we want and get whatever job we want. In reality that's not the case. The only thing DACA gives us is a preventative measure from getting deported for the first two years and getting to work. It doesn't guarantee you a job. That doesn't necessarily equate with us taking people's jobs away. That's where the miscommunication happens. That's why so many people feel really strongly about removing the program. I guess if I thought someone was taking away my job I'd be mad at them – but that's not the case here.

Carlos Rodriguez

This is really, really weird. There was always this feeling with Trump that he could repeal DACA at any time. It's been so long since it was really talked about, it's caught us all off guard. It was so surprising, and to some extent, really hard. I can't really imagine what other people are going through, who have already had DACA for a few years and grown accustomed to this life, of not living in fear or in the shadows. And to just have someone say that's going to end… These people have done nothing but contribute to the country and work. It makes you feel under-appreciated for something you've been working hard for all your life.

You would assume that more people would be supportive of DACA. It's people who were brought to the US as children – they didn't really have a say in whether they wanted to come here. They've done nothing wrong in this country. And I came here at six months old, I've only known the US as my only home. And I consider it my home – I tell people I come from Los Angeles but I was born in Mexico. It's my primary form of identification, and I don't say that to abandon my heritage. I'm proud of it but I identify with where I was raised, where I have all my friends, all my life. That's really the case for a lot of these people on DACA. You love this country just as much as someone who has citizenship here.

To have someone say you're not one of us and you should go back to this place where you have no life… You'd be completely lost. People who have done nothing – they have no criminal records, because that's part of the application process for DACA. To be targeting these specific people is a really low blow from the US government. It shows lack of morality, a lack of compassion. It's really unnecessary. It's not going to help the economy or the perception of the US with other nations. It feels like we're being used as scapegoats for this. The chance of being deported is incredibly, incredibly frightening not just for our family but people all over the country.