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Salina DACA recipient shares experience

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 11:49 PM CDT
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SALINA, Kan. (KWCH) - An event held Wednesday at the Salina Art Center brought people together in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. At the event, a DACA recipient living in Salina shared her experience in the U.S.

Yessenia Baquera has lived in Salina since she was 3 years old. She didn’t realize until high school just how much her legal status would affect her since she wasn’t born in the United States.

“I wanted to do what everybody else did. And just not really knowing until you’re in high school, that you know, pretty much your life was kind of shattered. Like anything you wanna do, they tell you, you just can’t because you don’t have the legal status,” Baquera said.

When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created in 2012 to protect the legal status of children who grew up in the U.S. but weren’t born in the country, Baquera said she applied immediately.

“I submitted an application. It was really scary because it was new, but I still wanted to try," she said. Not long after applying for the program, Baquera learned she’d been granted DACA-recipient status. That’s when she began working and quickly realized the opportunities that come with having a legal status.

“I started working for the police department here in Saina. Just applying was nerve-wracking,” Baquera said. I was like, ‘how’re they going to pick me?' But you know, I applied just like anybody else and I took the test and I just kept going through it and they hired me."

Baquera on Wednesday shared her story with about a dozen people who came to listen. she said if she’s able to help anyone with her testimony, it’s worth it to her.

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