DACA/DREAM Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

The DACA DREAMers Who Do Not Need a Work Permit

Carla Chavarria working at Fair Trade Cafe in Phoenix. Photo: Frontera Fund.
Carla Chavarria working at Fair Trade Cafe in Phoenix. Photo: Frontera Fund.
Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

This is the first in a series about DREAMer entrepreneurs.

Carla Chavarria is yawning while she types on her laptop. She has been working around the clock to keep delivering projects for her clients. “I work hard for all of them,” she says.

Slim and strong, Carla is an avid Olympic weightlifting enthusiast who lifts more than her weight at the gym, just for fun and fitness.

She is a DACA recipient and founder of YCM/Ocho, a graphic design and marketing agency with a millennial point of view. She is co-founder – along with her friend Maxima Guerrero – of another venture, Ganaz Apparel, a fitness clothing line.

Carla was doing graphic design work for clients as an undocumented immigrant before June 15, 2012, when President Obama announced the creation of the DACA program. That same year, she filed for the creation of her business.

You can see a video of Carla highlighting her passion for art, graphic design, and marketing, here. 

As are all undocumented youth, Carla is sad President Trump is phasing off DACA. But she does not need the work permit, a document called the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), because she is her own boss.

Unless Trump says, ‘I want to deport Carla,’… my business will go on.

“I feel [DACA ending] affects me because I see people around me [being worried and sad], but I have not used the work permit for a lot of things,” says Carla.

Then she reflects: “It affects me because I think: What if the government wants to use the information I gave them to look for me and deport me?”

Carla is one of an increasing number of immigrant entrepreneurs and business owners.

A 2016 survey found that 6 percent of DACA recipients are business owners. This rate of business creation is higher than that of both the American public as a whole (3.1 percent) and the entire immigrant population (3.6 percent). The businesses created by young immigrants include tech startups, online craft stores, photography, graphic design services, tax preparation services, and others.

Carla is also creating jobs. She manages a handful of contractors and freelancers, half of them also DACA recipients.

What does Carla do with her EAD? “I have it in a folder with all the DACA documents. I used it once to buy a house,” she says with pride.

Carla is just 24 years old.

YCM is an agency that serves around 80 clients, many of them recurring. She is also a local celebrity, celebrated with recognitions and awards.

What is going to happen after DACA (potentially) is phased off? The business will go on, Carla says. “Unless Trump says, ‘I want to deport Carla.’ Unless that happens, my business will go on.”

Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund will continue to present immigrant entrepreneur profiles.