EUGENE, Ore. -- Five years ago this week, President Obama signed the executive order known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Nearly 800,000 people have registered for the program since it went into effect in 2012.
Hugo Nicolas remembers vividly when he walked across the desert to come to the United States. He was only 11 years old.
"I was really tired of walking and taking the heat, and all the cuts in my face and I was trying not to look like I was concerned or worried because I knew my mom was, and I was trying to be strong for her,” said Nicolas.
Nicolas family left Mexico after NAFTA took their family's income in the sugar cane fields.
Thousands of other children have similar stories of being brought to the US by their parents.
DACA has given Nicolas opportunities he didn’t have before.
Immigration attorney Abigail Molina says clients that have taken advantage of DACA have been more motivated to contribute to society.
"They didn't have the desire to move forward with their education and they didn't think it would be worth it or reach higher level of education, so I have seen people who now have the confidence and have the motivation to move forward,” said Molina.
Things some people take for granted, like a driver’s license, was something Nicolas could finally get after was eligible for DACA.
"The first thing that I did was get a driver’s license...super excited, and that was the first thing that I did, drive to places in Oregon and learn what Oregon is,” said Nicolas.
Nicolas is one of the speakers is taking part in a nationwide effort to defend DACA, speaking in Salem with other DACA recipients and telling their story.
"I think now at this moment we need to protect deferred action and at the same time we have to build a path to citizenship,” said Nicolas.
Nicolas says even though he is grateful for the opportunities, they still need to keep fighting.