Angela, all hazel brown skin and honey-colored eyes, crossed the border into Presidio when she was seven. Little by little, her family were reunited in Texas before her parents took her with them to California. Her country is the USA; her land, Mexico, although she only vaguely remembers her grandmother’s house, brimming with people, noise and the smell of a salsa that she has not been able to find since she left. Her father has been deported three times, on one occasion because the border police actually caught him when he was returning for her and her mother. The family confronted many difficulties as her father jumped from one job to the other.
They settled in San Carlos, so close to Menlo Park and yet a world away. They get by under conditions of hardship and hard work. Her brother is a mechanic. Angela received primary and secondary schooling, but for the recipients of support under the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, dreaming is never free.* So she works seven days a week in two different jobs. She wants to go to college. She also wants to travel, above all to Mexico, although her grandmother is no longer alive.
The last day Angela ever saw her, there was a detached look on her grandmother’s face. Her grandfather had had an accident with the car and, as a result, was unemployed and at risk of being deported. Barack Obama had just promised to naturalize immigrants stranded in legal limbo. It was based on the plan put together in 2006 by Sen. Ted Kennedy and Sen. John McCain, Democrat and Republican. It consisted of increasing the control over employers who contract with immigrants without work or residence permits, accepting that it would be impossible to deport 11 million people and creating a program for “guest workers” that would cover occasional requirements. In 2012, this program was transformed into a lottery for “green cards” – the permanent residence visa. Every year there are only a few lucky ones. Angela fulfills the two requisites – she has a high school diploma and has been working continuously for a substantial period of time. Nevertheless, she still runs the risk of being deported.
Obama's ambitious immigration reform foundered in Congress, and he resorted to executive action to protect those people protected under DACA, the majority of whom are Mexican who arrived as children and today are established in the U.S. Donald Trump intends to repeal DACA. The courts have stopped him. The real estate magnate is celebrating one year in the White House. Congress is celebrating it with a pay suspension. Trump has not renounced the wall that has still to begin construction, and yet he is boastful about finishing it. He is more dangerous for what he writes and represents than for what he does. The laws and the division of power are what sustain the Democrats and curb the lack of moderation. Meanwhile, however, Angela's dream has been brusquely interrupted.
*Editor's note: DACA recipients have been described as "Dreamers" in reference to the DREAM Act - Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors - which was a federal proposal that offered many of the same protections as DACA but has never been approved by Congress.