Dedman College alumnus José Manuel Santoyo on DACA, how it impacts his life and what happens if it’s eliminated

D Magazine

Originally Posted: March 21, 2017

This is an excerpt from a DMagazine article posted on March 21. You can read the full article here:

What Will Happen to North Texas’ Dreamers?

Five undocumented Dallasites share how former President Obama’s immigration order, DACA, impacted their lives, what’s wrong with it, and what they’ll do if it’s eliminated.


Violence brought José Manuel Santoyo to the United States. His mother fled the state of Michoacán with Jose and his three siblings in 2001. This was about five years before Mexican President Felipe Calderon formally declared war on the cartels, sending nearly 7,000 soldiers to battle them in Santoyo’s home region. “People all around me were getting killed,” he says. “My mother didn’t want us to be in that environment.”

His senior year, his luck changed. At a career fair, he learned that he could, indeed, go to college. In 2001, Texas became the first state to allow non-citizens who’d been a resident here for at least three years to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges. While this is now contested in Austin (with Bedford state Rep. Jonathan Stickland being its loudest detractor, arguing that it’s attracting undocumented immigrants to the state), it once shared bipartisan support. When he ran for president in 2011, former Gov. Rick Perry even fired a shot across the bow toward those who disagreed with the law: “I don’t think you have a heart,” he said to the law’s opponents.

Santoyo turned his attention back to his studies, and he was eventually accepted to Southern Methodist University. He came to Dallas in 2013 and graduated last December with a double major in Human Rights and Spanish. He’s now pursuing his master’s at SMU, likely a double concentration in Human Rights and Organizational Management. He’s gotten involved with the North Texas Dream Team, advocating alongside Luna for pro-immigration policies. He knows it nearly wasn’t like this. He grew up in poverty, watching his relatives work construction. He himself logged jobs in factories and fast food shops, the type of low-skill gigs that put undocumented immigrants at risk of being taken advantage of. But it’s all there is for employment. Like so many others, DACA put Santoyo on the record. He remembers that day in 2012, when he watched Obama walk down those three steps to the podium in the Rose Garden and announced his executive order.

“Just knowing that that was going to be something I could apply for, that obviously took a huge weight off my shoulders and the burden and expectation that I wasn’t going to be able to do much with my life,” he said. “I’ve seen how much (immigrants) have been able to accomplish because of DACA and how much they’ve been able to contribute, not only to their families and for their own survival, but to the movement in general because of the positions we can be in now.”

Now, every day since Trump became president, Santoyo says he anxiously checks the news to make sure the executive order is still in place. And so far, it is. But he’s also focused on his future, on what would happen if that goes away. He’s begun thinking about the things that can and can’t be taken away from him here. And that’s why he’s enrolled in a master’s program.

“This administration,” he says, “they could take away DACA and whatever documents we have right now, but they can’t take away our education.” READ MORE

By | 2017-03-21T11:34:05+00:00 March 21st, 2017|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Embrey Human Rights Events, Events, History, World Languages and Literatures|Comments Off on Dedman College alumnus José Manuel Santoyo on DACA, how it impacts his life and what happens if it’s eliminated