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My Purpose Here is to Get an Education: More than 1,200 DACA Recipients Attend Virginia Colleges

Mallory Noe-Payne


More than 1,200 DACA students are enrolled in Virginia’s colleges. Officials at VCU, UVA and Virginia Tech have all spoken in support of those students after President Trump decided to suspend the amnesty program that allowed many of them to go college in the first place. Students at VCU in Richmond protested that decision this week. It was there that we met one DACA recipient.


RADIO IQ has agreed not to use Yanet's last name because her parents still live in Richmond and are undocumented. They moved her to Virginia from Mexico in 2004. Yanet is 22 and a student at VCU.

“When you come to this country as a young kid you don’t tend to think about what it means to be undocumented. You don’t see the consequences. You don’t see it.

"All through my high school, (people were like) ‘You should get good grades, you need to keep up.’ But when it came to junior year it hit me, that I was probably not going to be able to go to college.”

Then President Obama signed DACA, meaning Yanet no longer had to fear deportation. And later, Virginia granted in-state tuition for DACA recipients.

“But that day, it changed everything. Like, hope was given to me. It was something handed to me that I was going to be able to continue my purpose here.

“And my purpose here is to get an education. And all the dreams and all the sacrifices that my parents have done for 14 years, were gonna be actually complete. And now they’re not. Now they’re in limbo, now they’re in limbo. Now they’re, now we don’t know what’s going to go.

“But it just hasn’t hit me yet, it hasn’t. Like I know it happened, but, I haven’t come to the realization that in less than a year I will once again be undocumented.”



Credit Data from SCHEV
** Virginia Tech doesn't ask students for DACA status, so its numbers are unknown.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association. 


Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.
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