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A look at 10 years of the DACA program

As "Dreamers" face an uncertain future, we hear from a woman who went from extreme poverty in Guatemala to a full-time accountant job in Austin.

AUSTIN, Texas — Edilsa Lopez is an accomplished accountant now. But the road there was far from smooth. It started when she was 13 and took a six-month journey walking to the U.S. from Guatemala with her family. 

“We were fleeing poverty, like extreme poverty, such as homelessness and not having food to eat,” she said.

She was kidnapped in Mexico, but escaped and eventually made it to the U.S.

“I came with a lot of trauma,” she said.

Now she has a little girl of her own and she is thankful for having DACA, an Obama-era program that gives immigrants who came to the country as kids permission to work in the U.S. She said getting permission to work in the U.S. through DACA is now allowing her to make a living. Before DACA, she said she struggled a lot.  

“Some days in college I would have like a dollar to eat and people wouldn’t want to hire me because I didn't have the proper documents,” she said.

Lopez’s story is one of many. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, as of last year, there were more than 600,000 DACA recipients in the country. Senior demographer with political organization FWD.us Phillip Connor said those DACA recipients add a lot of money to our economy. 

“So there's a great contribution in the millions of dollars into both state and tax revenue, as well as a few billion in the economic impact that they’re providing to the state,” said Connor.

But the program is in limbo. Republican officials are taking the program to federal court, saying the program is unlawful.

“We just never know what’s going to happen next with the DACA program. It’s under threat all the time,” said Lopez.

It's a political back-and-forth, with more than 600,000 lives hanging in the balance.

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