FAIRMONT CITY, Ill. (KSDK) – Leaders in Washington are still deciding the future of a program that allows young, undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States.
Meanwhile, recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, wait for an uncertain future.
Germain Martinez Garcia tries not to let the daily headlines affect him too much.
“I have to try — for the community — I can’t have any negative thoughts in my mind. It doesn’t allow me to do my job like it should be done,” he said.
Martinez is a DACA recipient, himself. He was brought into the U.S. without documentation when he was only 6, and grew up in southern Illinois. Now, he is a local police officer on the force in Fairmont City, Illinois.
The department hired him about two years ago to complete the police academy. He has been patrolling the streets for about nine months.
“I love helping people, interacting with people, and just the community — I really enjoy the community,” he said.
“What we try to do here is make the police department look like the faces of the people in the community,” said Fairmont City Police Chief, Scott Penny. “Fairmont City is approximately 70 percent Hispanic population.
Penny met Martinez when the officer was just an intern and said he recognized potential. Not familiar with the DACA program enough to know if he could hire Martinez, Chief Penny started making phone calls around the state.