I came to this country from a rural town outside Mexico City when I was just nine years old. My dad had already moved to Indiana to work in a meat factory and later McDonald’s, but my mom, two sisters and I missed him so much that my parents moved us to Indiana so we could be reunited. From there, I grew up as a midwestern girl. I picked up English quickly and did well in school. But as I aged into my teen years, I realized what being undocumented meant. Not only was I prohibited from getting a driver’s license and applying for financial aid for college, I lived with a constant fear that if I got into trouble at all with the police, I could be sent back to a country I hardly knew.
So, when the Daca program was created in 2012 – my senior year of high school – I felt a flood of relief wash over me. My parents were so excited for me and my sisters they even hired a lawyer to make sure we filled out our paperwork correctly. Daca changed my life and opened up a world of opportunity to me. I became the first person in my family to graduate from college, earning a degree in journalism and design. I landed dream internships at Vox Media, Univision and Time Inc. In the summer of 2017, I worked part time at Gannett Phoenix Design Studio, which put me on a multimedia project with the Arizona Republic about the stories behind the US-Mexico border wall. Back in school a few months later, a message from my project supervisor popped up on my screen. We had won the 2018 Pulitzer prize for explanatory reporting. “Add that to your résumé,” she wrote. There I was, at risk of deportation and I had just won the most prestigious prize in American journalism. I wanted to say to the world, “See? Daca recipients are capable of so much.”