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DACA Student Under Trump: 'I Am Still Woven Into The Fabric Of This Country'

Juan de la Rosa Diaz came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 5. The 20-year-old is in his last semester as a political science major at Virginia Tech.
Ari Shapiro
Juan de la Rosa Diaz came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 5. The 20-year-old is in his last semester as a political science major at Virginia Tech.

All Things Considered co-host Ari Shapiro is on a road trip leading up to the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 20. He is driving through North Carolina and Virginia, on the way to Washington, D.C. These are two swing states that went in opposite directions in November, each by a close margin: North Carolina for Trump, Virginia for Hillary Clinton. As the country faces dramatic changes, we're asking people what they want from that change — and what concerns them.

Juan de la Rosa Diaz did not actually vote — even though he has a lot riding on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

He is in his last year as a political science major at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and on a recent day, the 20-year-old is proudly wearing a T-shirt that says, "I am undocumented."

Juan came to the U.S. from Mexico with his parents when he was 5 years old. He has sisters who were born here; they're American citizens.

Juan always knew he was undocumented, and that he had to keep it a secret, but he only really understood what it meant when he turned 16 and all of his friends started getting driver's licenses.

"For all of high school, all of my friends just thought I was a really bad driver, and that's why I didn't have a license," he says. "When you're undocumented, you get really good at lying, all these little white lies that you use to build a barrier that protects you and your family. It's not only my secret, it's my family's secret."

In 2012, President Obama signed an executive action that changed things for Juan. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, meant that he didn't have to lie anymore, and could get a driver's license and permission to work.

Juan went to college, with plans to get a doctorate degree and become a university professor.

Donald Trump campaigned on undoing all of that, and Juan worries about what a Trump presidency means not only for himself and his education, but of that of other DACA students.

Despite his fears and feelings of betrayal, though, Juan says he still feels a strong connection to the United States.

"I very much consider myself woven into the fabric of this country, because it's taught me everything I know, it's given me so many opportunities," he says.

Use the audio link above to hear the full conversation.

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Corrected: January 19, 2017 at 12:00 AM EST
In the audio of this story, as in a previous Web version, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was incorrectly referred to as an executive order. It is an executive action.
Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
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