DACA opened doors to education for some Colorado students, but obstacles remain

When Flor Camarena was getting ready to graduate from her Denver high school, there was a moment she wasn’t sure she’d be able to go to college.

But her counselors, to whom she had confided her lack of legal status, helped her find schools that were supportive and programs that gave her hope for financial assistance.

This fall, she’s entering Metropolitan State University of Denver. Because she’s already earned some credits, she’ll be starting as a sophomore. But not having legal status in this country, where she’s lived since she was a baby, is impacting her educational choices and prospects.

Camarena has applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program that would protect her from deportation and give her permission to work and apply for financial aid, but she doesn’t know if her application will ever be processed.

Instead of studying criminal justice to become a detective as she had wanted, Camarena instead will major in business management.

“I started thinking about how DACA might be removed and I just thought about the outcome,” she said. “Once I study, yes I’ll get my diploma and certification but then getting into working for the law — I wouldn’t get a good job because of my legal status. Even if I do get DACA, that’s still not a very lawful status to have to work with the law. I just didn’t see it happening.”

Read the full story from our partners at Chalkbeat Colorado.

Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news organization covering education issues. For more, visit co.chalkbeat.org.

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