Rixa Rivera Sandoval was 1 ½ years old when her parents brought her from Guadalajara, Mexico, to the United States. Growing up, Sandoval wanted to be a police officer, and she distinctly remembers talking about her career plans with her mother.
"I remember Mom looking at me and being, 'Mija, I don't want to tell you this, but I think you can't. We're not here the legal way," she said.
Sandoval is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient—one of approximately 800,000 nationwide and 3,100 in Idaho. Under the program, which was created by an Obama-era executive order, she has been able to attend school, obtain a driver's license and hold a job—free from the threat of deportation. She cannot, however, receive benefits through social programs like Social Security.
Sandoval was one of several DACA recipients to speak before approximately 1,000 demonstrators at the Idaho State Capitol on Sept. 9. The rally was to show support for people like Sandoval and protest President Donald Trump's rescinding the program Sept. 5, passing the buck to Congress. No new enrollees will be allowed, and the deadline for current recipients to re-apply is Thursday, Oct. 5.
Sandoval plans to attend Boise State University to study material sciences and biomedical engineering, but is taking a year off to save money working for Wells Fargo. She is ineligible for federally backed loans to finance her education.
"It's hard being a DACA student and undocumented immigrant, a Latina and a woman in Idaho," Sandoval said.
Ruben Estrada, who came to the U.S. from Guanajuato, Mexico, soon after his seventh birthday, learned about his undocumented status when he thought about getting his driver's license. DACA allowed him to get his license and study at College of Western Idaho. He plans to transfer to Boise State to major in business.
"I just hope I can prepare myself to be successful," he said.
He has little optimism, however, about the future of the program.
"It would be better to have immigration reform, but how it is with Donald Trump in office, I don't see anything happening," Estrada said.