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The Uncertainty Continues: conversation with a DACA student

Photo by Christopher Smith

Luis Montanez, a DACA student, talks about President Trump's decision to rescind the program.

When I talked to Luis Montanez for Desert Companion’s January feature, “ In the Face of Uncertainty,” he was undertaking the process of renewing his DACA status, which has to be done every two years. His application was approved in May, meaning that he’s covered until May 2019. That’s an especially big relief to Montanez now that President Donald Trump has rescinded the DACA program. I checked in with Montanez following the White House's September 5 announcement to see how he was taking it.

How did you feel when you heard the announcement on Tuesday?

I wasn’t surprised. Before the actual announcement, there were rumors that it was going to happen, and he (Trump) campaigned on it. Even though he said he was for Dreamers, I wasn’t shocked. But I was definitely disappointed.

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What does this change for you right now?

Today, I’m not necessarily doing anything differently. All I’m hoping for is for Congress to push some sort of legislation, hopefully the DREAM Act. There’s nothing I can really do, besides what I’ve been doing: continue going to school, speak out when I can. Since I’ve been in this position before, where the threat of deportation is constantly hanging over me, what I’ve been doing since I found out is the same: trying to persevere and hope that the law will change.

Are you engaging in any activism?

As of right now, it looks like NSC’s student body president, Alicia Contreras, who is another DACA recipient, is planning to send a letter to the campus community first, just to let them know what the stance of student government is and what resources we can offer to people who need them. We’re also thinking about sending letters to our U.S. senators and congressional representatives, to make sure they support DACA — particularly Heller, since we’re not sure what his position is.

Does this change anything for you long-term?

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I was one of the fortunate ones who was able to renew before this happened, so I have a year and a half left on it. I have more time than a lot of others who expire soon and can’t renew it. For me, I plan to graduate, apply to law school, and hopefully attend. I’m not actually going to go to law school until fall 2019. I’m hoping that, by that time, something will have happened in Congress, so I don’t have to worry about it.

Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.