who we are, why we built this

Lead Researcher

Lead Researcher

Otto Santa Ana, Ph.D.

I am defending DACA because as a Dreamer, I have experienced the heartbreak that follows the realization that my extremely hard work to build a successful future was ignored. I don't want to be denied by the only country I have ever known to be my home. I want the United States Congress to stop ignoring our dedication and to pass a clean Dream Act that will protect and prioritize our futures and put an end to this wave of devastating deportations.

Celeste Gomez

Though I’ll never fully comprehend the fears of being undocumented, my parents immigrated here before I was born, it is with this privilege I decide to work towards the betterment of others and the recognition of human rights. Defending DACA goes beyond the here and now. It is the push  to ensure the beginning of a much-needed immigration reform. 

Kimberly Ceron

Defending DACA is important to me because it gave me with the opportunity to gain a full time job and allowed me the chance to help my mom pay the bills. Applying knowledge that you obtain in the classroom and using it to work on a project that can have a positive impact on society is what UCLA is all about.

Oscar Gaytan

I am participating in the defense of DACA to protect my family. I would like my siblings to enjoy their college education without the fear of deportation lingering in their minds. I want to know that I belong here, in the place where I spent my childhood, in the place I know as my home. 

Marco Juarez

I stand for DACA because everyone deserves the opportunity to excel. No one should have their rights stripped from them because of something that is out of their control.

Julia Isais

I choose to help defend DACA because my classmates and friends have been deeply affected by its rescinding. Witnessing their strength, determination and will to persevere  DACA has immensely inspired me. I choose to be an ally because everyone deserves equality and equity, regardless of any circumstances. Their/[our] fight will not go unnoticed nor unheard -- we hope this work will create an impactful change.

Nicole Contreras

As the son of two immigrants, my educational journey has not been easy. The hard work and sacrifices my parents made allowed me to become a first-generation college student at the top public university in the nation. Standing in defense of undocumented immigrants across the country is personal. I know there are millions of other immigrant families that deserve the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

Victor de Alba

Everyone deserves a chance in America. Immigrants are people as well but it often seems to be forgotten, lets defend DACA for the sake of tomorrow.

Jazmin de la Torre

 I am not immediately affected by DACA but I do have friends and family that are. I decided to work on the DACA defense because I believe education is a human right and no one should be denied such right due to their legal status.

Moises del Real

I am participating in the defense of DACA because I want to help DACA Students get the education they deserve. Given the opportunity, these people can succeed in life and change the stereotypes surrounding immigrants and Latinos. For a better future!

Evelyn Escobar

I am a graduate student visiting UCLA from Osaka, Japan studying Linguistics. I joined this project because one of my research interests was Critical Discourse Analysis, and as I had been studying Spanish, I had a lot of opportunities to meet great people from Latin America including DACA recipients. I strongly believe that all  young Americans should have a right to study and work here, so it has been a pleasure to participate in this project.

Yuina Hirose

I feel it is of extreme importance to work towards our DACA defense because it is clear that we have to remind our officials that with or without legal status, we are still human. Working towards this cause paves a path to ensure economic and social stability for future Latinas/os. 

Veronica Hernandez

I am a low income, first generation Latino student and although the DACA situation does not affect me directly, it affects many students who grew up with similar circumstances as me. I chose to work on the Critical Discourse Analysis of the NFL Kneeling protests, but I still felt a need to contribute to my peers’ work in the DACA defense.

Eloy R. Torres

The reasons I worked on the DACA Defense were my close friends and my family.  My best friend is undocumented and through DACA, he was able to continue his education after high school. Without DACA, undocumented students would not have the opportunity to continue their education and/or get a good job. We live in a country that is suppose to allow anyone to achieve the "American Dream", but how can it be achieved if laws and regulations oppress and discriminate those that are undocumented. In order to create change, we must challenge the systems that creates inequality and oppresses our communities.

Andy Aguiar

I am participating in the DACA defense because my older sister is directly affected as a recipient. I am here to be her voice and stand up for her.


Odalys Esquivel

I am a third year transfer student at UCLA and I am working on the DACA defense team because I believe in human liberation. Although I am not directly affected by DACA, I believe in the freedom of universal education.

Jackelyne Garcia

I do this for my family, but I also do this for my community because anything that threatens the safety and sacrifices of our families, threatens all of us. It is our responsibility to defend and protect our undocumented community regardless of the powers that stand against us.

Magaly Resendez

Growing up as a Mexican-American, I have always been surrounded by family and friends who were undocumented, but to me they were people who had dreams and goals. As I got older I realized that they, and millions of others who lived in this country, did not have the same opportunities I enjoyed.. With DACA, people with high potential to achieve great things were finally allowed an opportunity to achieve and work towards their dreams. My participation in the defense for DACA stems from the fact that I have personally witnessed the potential and knowledge that DACA students have. I want to help  my friends and family live a comfortable life in the country they call home.


Ismael De Anda

I am involved in the colleges against cancer club and residential life. I have been working for Professor Santa Ana for a year now, I am been very interested in daca defense because I enjoy social justice and learning about civil law.

John Hernandez

Professor Santa Ana has given us the opportunity to participate in research that will allow us to defend those who are directly affected by the rescission of DACA by exposing the anti-immigrant rhetoric that dominates Trump’s language. We are working together to protect our family, friends, and colleagues.

Lissette Garcia

 I want to defend DACA because as a child of immigrants, I have personally witnessed the positive impact of immigration. My parents migrated to the United States during the Liberian Civil War and have been able to provide a better living for my family.  The desire for a better life is a prominent  theme among immigrants and I want to fight for everyone with the same aspiration. 

Jocelyn Teah

I am fighting for DACA because terminating this program will have a detrimental effect on the well-being of everyone involved. From a social-economic point of view, ending DACA will also have adverse consequences, since these are members of society who positively contribute to this nation.  

Adan Martinez

I stand with the DREAMers and I am using this opportunity to do something meaningful. We can't allow the destruction of countless lives. #cleanDREAMact

Lupita Hernandez

Although, my father was an unauthorized immigrant this country gave him a lot of opportunities to grow economically and as a person; he had the opportunity to become a permanent resident. Subsequently, he became a U.S. citizen. I grew up in Mexico, where I was completely unaware of the struggle, the racism and all the challenges unauthorized immigrants deal with in this country. The main reason, I am participating in the DACA defense is because many people that I love, who are hard workers and great students, are being affected by this decision and this project is giving me a platform to help them.

Melina Martinez

I am participating in the defense of DACA because it is a topic that I find very close to my heart due to the fact that one of my family members is part of DACA. I feel that it is our duty to defend the rights of those who want to succeed and do better for this country.

Jocelyne Herrera

I am part of the DACA team because I believe that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for ourselves and the generations that follow.

Ruth Perez

Growing up with undocumented relatives I have witnessed the unequal treatment they received. I feel that there needs to be change. The unequal treatment is unconstitutional and participating in this DACA defense team is a step forward to voice our desire to fight for justice. 

Dalia Samano

Even though DACA does not directly affect me, it affects my peers because they want a future in this country but the government is restricting them from achieving their dreams. 

Guadalupe Lazaro

As a first-generation college student and daughter of immigrants I chose to participate in defense of DACA to shed light on an inequity that is affecting my community. Although, I am not a recipient of DACA, my community is targeted by President Trump and this requires a collective to come together in defense of our dreamers.

Ivone Santana

Although I am not a DACA student, it is critical to highlight the educational importance of this program, since without it many students will not be able to complete their education, simply because they are not citizens. The work of my classmates and professor OSA is designed to bring more public awareness.

Diana Adame

Seeing the people you love and care for being restricted on what they can do, what they can say, and where they can go is not fair. DACA recipients have every right to enjoy what every other citizen gets to enjoy: a life without daily fear. #DefendDACA so that every child who was brought into the U.S has a fighting chance against the system that is trying to bring them down.

Carolina Armenta