D has done everything right. He’s worked hard in school, built a valuable skill set, and tried to join the technology industry. But the DACA political confusion keeps throwing up new obstacles.
D’s parents are from Guadalajara, Jalisco, in Mexico. They came north as farmworkers and brought their son with them when he was 9, settling in Salinas, California, an agricultural town ten miles inland from the great curve of the Monterey Bay.
Farms dominate the Salinas Valley. The area grows 70 percent of the nation’s lettuce, is home to two of the four largest orchid growers in America, and produces the most chardonnay grapes in California.
But D was fascinated by computers. He wanted to become a game developer or graphic designer. He took a class in high school so that he could start to learn how to code, and the next thing he knew, he had become part of a program at California State University at Monterey Bay that would let him get his computer-science degree in three years—for him, funded in part by the Matsui Foundation, which is associated with one of those big orchid growers.
“The first time my parents saw one of my computers, they thought that they only existed in movies,” D told me.
As he approaches the halfway point of his program, he’s been applying for internships right in the middle of the political fight over the future of the program President Barack Obama initiated to help immigrants, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Hundreds of thousands of people who arrived in the United States as children are covered by the program, which the Trump Administration is pushing to rescind, a battle that remains frozen in federal court. Congress has not come up with a compromise, either, so the whole situation has become a mess.