AUSTIN (Nexstar) — When Diego Corzo graduated college, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get a job related to his degrees, or even stay in the United States for that matter. That all changed when he heard President Barack Obama announce a new program that would allow children of undocumented immigrants like himself to stay in America.
Corzo moved to the U.S. as a child from Peru in 1999 with his parents. Up until 2012 when the Obama administration created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, he feared having to return to his home country, which would have felt foreign after growing up in America.
“I was afraid of getting deported, just because I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” he said. “There was always that fear.”
Corzo is one of tens of thousands of “dreamers” whose lives have been changed by DACA. Currently, there are 101,000 DACA recipients living in Texas, according to a report from FWD.us, a nonprofit immigration advocacy group.
Since becoming a DACA recipient, Corzo has pursued his career ambitions in Austin. The Peruvian immigrant graduated in the top 1% of his class at Florida State University, where he received two bachelor’s degrees in three years. In Austin, he enjoys a career in real estate investment at Keller Williams Realty. He’s even given a TEDx talk on his pursuit of the American dream.
“Now I lead our real estate team of, we’re about 10 agents, and we are the number one team in our Keller Williams office that has over 500 agents. And it’s led by a DACA recipient,” he said.
DACA turns 10 years old on Wednesday but remains in legal limbo.
A July 2021 ruling from a federal judge prohibited the government from approving any new applications. DACA recipients’ permits to stay in the U.S. only last two years, so if the courts decide to void the program, immigrants like Corzo could be at risk of deportation.
The state of Texas led one of the several legal challenges to DACA. In 2017, Attorney General Ken Paxton called the Obama-era program “unconstitutional,” arguing the federal executive branch lacks the power to grant undocumented immigrants “lawful presence and work authorization.”