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Stamford DACA recipient reacts to uncertain future

Big Country student faces additional...

SAN ANGELO, Texas - Alex Ortega, 19, likes to challenge himself at the gym, and he also works out his mind as a history major at Angelo State University.

After school and the gym, the sophomore puts in about 30 hours a week at Walmart as a cashier. A former football player at Stamford High School, Ortega said sports helped teach him how to take on his busy life. 

“Just play by play,” Ortega said. “It ain't over ‘til it's over.”

But Ortega is playing by a different set of rules than most students on campus. He's not a U.S. citizen.

Born in Mexico, he came to America with his mother in 2001 when he was three. He's one of 800,000 other young DACA recipients whose future is now in question. DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program put in place under President Obama in 2012 that allows people brought to America as minors to apply to stay in the country and work or attend school. This week, President Trump repealed DACA.

“We've grown up here all our lives, and the United States is all we know,” Ortega said.

Ortega is also facing another challenge -- adapting to a prosthesis he's had for about 5 weeks. He lost his leg in a car accident in February of 2016.

“I do have to work twice as hard sometimes, now three times as hard as most students, but as long as I have a chance, that's what keeps me going,” Ortega said.

He said he wants that chance to eventually become a U.S. citizen, have a career as a coach and teacher, and pursue the American Dream.

“I'm going to just keep taking it day by day, just do what I can, keep going to school, keep working, just put it all in God's hands, honestly,” Ortega said.

Ortega is part of an association on campus for Mexican-American students. He said together they're able to stay informed on laws and current events affecting them. 


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