For this 360 video, Lakshmi Sarah interviewed DACA recipient and Rise Up: Be Heard fellow Berania Barraza about the challenges she experienced growing up undocumented, the anxiety of being DACAmented, and her hope for a more secure future. The text interview has been edited for length and clarity.
When did you realize you were undocumented?
It didn’t really click until I was six — I got a really bad fever, and I had to go to the hospital. My mom took me and they told her that it was too expensive and they couldn’t take me in.
I would see my younger brother who is a U.S. citizen going to the hospital every time he got hurt, and I always compared myself to him thinking — “Why don’t I have the same opportunities as my brother?”
It wasn’t really easy since, growing up undocumented I didn’t have medical insurance. My mom was a field worker and she was a single mother.
How do you feel these days?
Right now I’m scared of DACA being taken away. My friends are scared for me. And I feel like our Congress should do something because there are 800,000 DACA recipients. 100% of them have never been arrested in their lifetimes. 100%. Can you say that about Americans? Let’s be real.
I was talking to a couple friends of mine who are also DACA recipients and we were kind of joking but kind of serious, we were thinking of our own situations and planning for the apocalypse — It’s kind of like prepping for that. That’s how serious it is for us because if it ends up being revoked we’re going to be thrown to a different country we know nothing about.
Why are you sharing your story?
I try to be as vocal as I can in safe environments. I bring it up because I want my status to be known. I try to be very vocal about it so people understand who these DACA recipients are. We like socializing, we like working hard, we really like doing pretty much the same things everyone else likes to do.
What would you say to people who oppose DACA?
I would say go to these DACA or Dreamers Centers and talk to the students there. Ask them: “How did you get here? What do you want to do with life? What are you doing right now?” If you were just to ask those questions and learn their stories you will understand why we’re fighting so hard and why our friends are fighting so hard for us.
Why do you go to protests and take action?
I’ve been going to some of the DACA protests and sometimes I go to some of the DACA workshops they have on campus. I try to get my voice out there even if it’s just having conversation with someone at the rally or the protest. The fact that we have to be fighting for our right to be here — it’s just ridiculous. The reason I go to these protests is so that I can make my statement known.
What are your hopes for the future?
Ever since 7th grade, I’ve wanted to become a reporter. Looking at the situation of my community in the Eastern Coachella Valley, you realize that there are a lot of injustices happening in this “first world” country and no one is talking about it. [So] I’m hoping that I can get a great job a great career and pursue my dreams as a reporter. And get to share some success with my mother and my brother because they’re the ones that motivate me in the first place.
Rise Up: Be Heard is a journalism training and mentorship program, made possible with support from The California Endowment.
360 video production supported by Google VR Creator’s Lab.