Dallas Teacher Recounts Her Path to Legal Status Amid DACA Uncertainty

It is a crucial week for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program.

With a looming deadline to avoid a government shutdown, Democrats say they will not approve a spending deal unless it includes a fix for the policy protecting an estimated 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump says he will not sign anything on immigration without money for a border wall.

Texas is home to more than 120,000 DACA recipients.

One Dallas teacher narrowly avoided living the uncertainty several of her colleagues and a family members are currently facing.

Esseiny Alanis had dreamed of obtaining a Green Card since she was brought to the United States illegally by her parents when she was just five years old.

When Alanis was 17, she reported being sexually abused as a child. That allowed her to qualify for a Humanitarian Visa.

Alanis was also eligible to apply for the DACA program. However, she could only chose one of the two programs to gain legal status.

Alanis opted for the Humanitarian visa, hoping that it would provide a faster path to legalization. It did. She is now breathing a sigh of relief when it comes to her immigration status.

“I feel happy that I have my Permanent Residency because it’s a dream that I’ve had for a long time,” Alanis said, noting she is "glad that I chose that route."

If Alanis had chosen to apply for provisional legal status under DACA, she would likely be facing the same uncertainty current DACA recipients, including 36 fellow Dallas I.S.D. teachers, are feeling. 

“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” she said about her legal status. “I feel sad because my brother, he has DACA right now. A lot of my friends, they have DACA. For them, it’s the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen to them if they’re going to lose their job, their career and for the children because right now children need teachers, bilingual teachers who are qualified.”

Alanis said she wonders about the ripple effects deporting so-called Dreamers like her would have on cities like Dallas. The city's school district stands to lose a total of 68 DACA employees should the law expire before Congress takes action.

“We have a dream also and we want to be a part of this big dream and make this country a better place,” Alanis said.

A representative with the group North Texas Dream Team tells NBC 5 they will soon be holding workshops to help Dreamers renew their DACA status.

A federal judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security to resume processing DACA renewals last week.

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