DACA recipient recalls being smuggled into U.S. as a child

DACA student speaks about being smuggled into the US

Looking back at his childhood, Juan Carlos Cerda is thankful for so much.

“I’m originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico," Cerda said. “I’m incredibly blessed to have grown up in this country.”

But getting to the U.S. was far from a certainty.

“I didn’t really understand it completely at the time. I was only 7 years old,” he said.

That is when his mother told him they were leaving Mexico, to join his father in U.S.

First came a car ride, then a bus ride, more waiting and eventually a journey across the border in a car with another family.

He knows now his parents paid a smuggler, commonly called a coyote, to get them into the country.

"Whatever risk that involved, even if that involved making a deal with a coyote, it’s worth it for family - for a future,” Cerda reflected.

Which is why even with a different journey, the now 25-year old can identify with the estimated 70-100 people stuffed inside a sweltering trailer in San Antonio Sunday morning.

"They think everything that this country has to offer is worth the dangerous trek, the dangerous journey that they have to go through,” Cerda said.

Cerda says he was lucky.  He attended Grand Prairie ISD schools and his parents were with him when he graduated from Yale in 2015.

Cerda just completed a two year assignment with Teach for America in the Pleasant Grove area of southeast Dallas.

Now, nearly two decades after arriving in Texas, he wants to work on creating a legal path for nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants, including his parents.

Cerda is able to live and work in Texas through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, an executive order signed by President Obama, but the program does not provide legal status.

“We need something that really addresses the need for families to be together,” Cerda said.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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