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Why We Matter: Immigration in Northern Nevada

Why We Matter: Immigration in Northern Nevada

Nevada is made up of immigrants from all over the world. Maria Toca is one of them. She grew up in Northern Nevada.

“This is what we know now, this is our life,” she said.

Her parents moved to the United States when Toca was 4 years old.

“We were told that we were going to Disneyland. And I think that was a brilliant idea," Toca said.

Toca is a recipient of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program protects young undocumented immigrants who are brought to the U.S. as children. Toca has to meet several guidelines to stay in the country.

But President Donald Trump has said he wants to end DACA; the future of potentially 800,000 DACA recipients are up in the air.

"If people like myself would have to leave, this country would kind of be missing out on a lot because every DACA recipient is pretty hard working and we have to prove that," Toca said. "When this happened with DACA I definitely started to panic a little bit."

The immigrant community is worried about an uncertain future.

"A lot of concern,” said Mayra Garcia, a Mexican immigrant who recently gathered at a church in Reno to discuss immigration and refugee reform.

The meeting included a mostly Hispanic community, along with law enforcement community representatives from Reno Police, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office and Sparks Police. There were also people from the Northern Nevada International Center, Word of Life Ministries and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

One of the biggest questions the Hispanic community had was for law enforcement: Will they be targeted or questioned about their legal status?

“I think it's imperative they're all here. Again, it’s not only showing that we have the community voicing their concerns, but that we have these authorities listening to us," Garcia said.

The Reno City Council voted last March to be a welcoming city, which is a promise of sorts, to assure the immigrant community that they will not be profiled based on their race.

“It means a lot. We are reaffirming that we are committed to working with our immigrant community,” said Oscar Delgado, Reno city councilman.

Delgado said tensions with law enforcement and community are high.

Law enforcement officers said they won’t ask an immigration status, even if someone is arrested, unless they’re facing an immigration crime.

“Once you come to jail, it becomes a little bit of a different ballgame because then your fingerprints get run through a federal database that immigration holds. And if that person is identified as someone who has been previously deported or stopped at the border, things like this, then immigration will send over a warrant," said Tom Green, Chief Deputy with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department.

As for people like Maria Toca, she said she will keep working, abiding by the law, hoping the DACA program continues.

“America has meant home to me and I don't want to have to let that go,” Toca said.

KRNV News 4 is taking a unique in-depth look at Immigration in a series called “Why We Matter, Immigration in Northern Nevada.” Join us every night this week on News 4 Nightly at 6 p.m. and for our immigration special Friday at 6:30pm.

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