Fernando Navarrette is many things: a field deputy for LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino in the Wilmington area, Mexican-American, the son of a street vendor, and a DACA recipient.
A federal judge has ordered the DACA program – deferred action for childhood arrivals – to resume to pre-2017 status.
In 2017, the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era executive order allowing some 800,000 undocumented immigrants to retain quasi-legal status.
Navarrette says he’s dedicated his life to serving the public in a country that he says hasn’t fully accepted him.
“Some would say I shouldn’t be here in this role," Navarrette said.
He is the councilman when the councilman can’t be present.
"I'm working for essentially the same government that hasn’t given me permanent status in this country, so it’s a bit of an irony," he said.
Navarrette came to the United States with his parents when he was 5 years old. He’s lived in Wilmington ever since.
"I went to elementary school here -- middle, high school, college -- even now in grad school. I’ve made a life here," Navarrette said.
LA is his home.
He's the son of a street vendor, and he takes pride in being both Mexican and American. He has a tattoo of monarch butterfly on his calf to remind him of his migration, and the word “DREAMER” across his forearm to remind him he’s one of 11 million seeking the American dream.
"Most immigrants want to make a life, want to make a living, want to take care of their families, want to put food on the table," Navarrette said.
When the Trump administration rescinded the DACA program, Navarrete said he felt the shadows he once lived in start to envelope him again.
“I had purchased a car finally, established credit of some form. I was already in the process of applying for grad school so to hear it was rescinded was not only a slap in the face to me, but to my peers," he said.
But now, days before his 32nd birthday, a federal judge is forcing the government’s hand to return DACA to full function, reiterating the program’s importance.
“They are good people who want to do good for our community," said LA City Councilman Joe LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino.
Navarrete’s boss applauds the judge’s push-back.
"Folks like Fernando are part of our city, part of our culture," Buscaino said. "They’re here to stay and we’re proud of that.”
For Navarrete, he says he has more work to do – soon, with a master's degree in public administration.
“I want to continue to work in public service. That is my contribution," Navarrete said.