Juan Tlapala, of Flanders, is a DACA participant and agreed to be interviewed about his studies, family, ownership of Top1Limo and his participation in DACA. Click here to read about how President Obama’s DACA program changed everything for Juan and his peers – and what would happen if President Trump is successful in ending the program.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a United States immigration policy that allows some individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to receive deferred action from deportation and become eligible for a work permit in the U.S.
In New Jersey, DACA has allowed more than 22,000 young people to come forward, pass background checks, and live and work legally in this country.
The Trump administration is now rejecting new applications, requiring renewal every year instead of every two years, and denying trips by DACA recipients to their countries of birth. After a recent setback from the Supreme Court, the Trump administration is said to be devising plans to make another push to end DACA.
Juan Tlapala, of Flanders, is a DACA participant and agreed to be interviewed about his studies, family, ownership of Top1Limo and his participation in DACA.
Hello Juan, Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.
When I was eight years old, my mother, brother and I came to the United States. My father was already here. We first lived in Nebraska where I went to school and struggled to keep up as I did not speak any English. After two years we moved to Chester to be near family and I went to school in Mendham. I graduated high school in 2008. I now live in Flanders with my wife and two children.
For many years I worked in a pizzeria to help support my family and to help pay for food, clothing and rent. Many immigrants are paid in cash in places such as restaurants and keep a low profile to avoid attracting attention out of fear of deportation.
Tell me what happened in 2012.
President Obama implemented the DACA program which was a “game changer” for myself and others. With the help of an attorney, I enrolled in DACA and was then able to obtain a drivers’ license, social security number, bank account and credit cards. I was eligible for DACA since I came into the country under the age of fifteen.
My goal was to become a nurse, and I received a Certified Nursing Assistant certificate from Berkley College and worked at a nursing home in Newton. Before that, one of my jobs was at Shop Rite. In 2016 I was able to visit Mexico and return to the United States under the protection of DACA. I also was a limo driver and quickly learned about the limousine business.
It costs $495 to renew my participation in DACA and I now need to do this annually instead of every two years with recent changes made by the Trump administration.
Tell us about your business Top1Limo in Chester.
In 2016, I had the opportunity to buy the limousine business that I was driving for. We have built a successful business providing reliable, professional service to airports, casinos, Broadway shows. etc. We also provide service for local trips and offer safe transport to those who choose not to drive. We drive Lincoln Continentals that we keep in perfect condition. There are times I work seven days a week with days that start early in the morning and go late into the night. I am still paying off a loan I took to buy the business. People can reach me through our website or by calling me at any time.
Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our business. People are not traveling on vacation and business travel has really slowed down.
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you or DACA?
My family came to the United States for economic freedom and a better future for my brother and I. We are working hard to provide the same for our children. If the DACA program is terminated, I will not be able to renew my participation and will need to close my business, leave my family and move to Mexico or be at risk of deportation.
This interview was conducted by Andy Meissner. We thank Juan Tlapala for sharing his story. His Top1Limo service can be reached at https://top1limo.com/ or (973) 668-0858.