Katia Ortiz is a Dreamer. Ortiz, who graduated from high school in 2010 with a 3.0 GPA, has been a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient since the inception of the program five years ago.
Her parents brought her from Mexico when she was three, and she says she’s never known any other home besides the United States.
Catholic Charities and The San Diego Organizing Project held a prayer service and informational meeting for DACA recipients at St. Jude’s Shrine of the West Saturday. After the prayer service, organizers held a workshop on how to apply for a renewal.
Ortiz spoke at the service.
“My parents brought me, just like any other kid, for a better future,” Ortiz told NBC 7. “They wanted to provide me with the best education they could. They gave me a good childhood.”
It wasn’t until high school that Ortiz realized she was different from the other kids who were applying for federal financial aid for college, getting their license and registering to vote – none of which she could do. When President Obama began the program in 2012, she was one of the first to sign up.
“It just gave me really good opportunities, I was able to get jobs, get a license, walk down the street without fear of being pulled over ICE or Border Patrol,” she said. “Every time I went to school it was for them, so my schooling was for them.”
Earlier this month, President Trump announced his plan to end the program next March. There is an October 5 deadline for eligible dreamers to apply for a renewal.
“I’ll admit I was a little confused and lost, thinking it was a little unfair because I’ve been there for so long,” she explained. “I don’t know anything about where I was from. Like I’ve never been there … I was thinking it was unfair that they want to identify me as being from there when I don’t have any idea what [Mexico is like.]”
Ortiz said she was able to renew her status, and won't have to worry for another two years.
Catholic Charities is also holding an application preparation at their Mission Gorge office Sunday and a screening and application prep workshop in El Cajon Tuesday at 6 p.m.
DACA recipients with questions can call Catholic Charities at 619-287-1270 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.