But Basurto's hopes were dashed Tuesday when Trump announced he would not accept new DACA applications. The move defies the Supreme Court decision and a federal District Court ruling in Maryland ordering immigration officials to accept new applications, experts and lawmakers say. It likely will face renewed legal challenges in the courts.
As Basurto watches DACA open opportunities for her older siblings and peers, she has seen her own prospects dwindle. At the same time, she has noticed complacency set in among some DACA recipients, while her own hardship bred resilience, motivation and social activism.
"I have a life outside of DACA," Basurto said. "DACA does not define who I am."
Still, she had plans to apply for DACA as soon as she got word that the government would accept new applicants -- mostly to give her parents peace of mind.
"You can't really translate DACA in Mixtec," she said. "For them, it just means I'm protected and don't have to return to Mexico."
California is home to the largest number of DACA recipients in the nation and led the legal challenge to the Trump administration's efforts since 2017 to do away with the program. The University of California, under the guidance of President Janet Napolitano -- who crafted the DACA policy as U.S. Homeland Security secretary -- was a lead plaintiff along with the state and other California entities and individuals in the Supreme Court case.
Young people who have aged into DACA eligibility over the last two-and-half-years but have been unable to apply represent an acutely vulnerable group, said Roberto Gonzales, a Harvard University sociologist who wrote a book based on a 12-year project following 150 young people and DACA recipients around the L.A. area.
"They have come of age under DACA," Gonzales said. "They've seen older siblings receive driver's licenses, take after-school jobs, and plan for their futures. But at a time when their citizen friends are participating in these important rites of passage, their progress has been stalled."
Initially, Basurto and her parents were afraid of handing government officials the family's personal information, as required as part of the application process, which confused them. They decided to test the waters with her two older siblings, allowing them to apply before submitting Basurto's application. When they qualified, Basurto started her application. Then Trump made his first move to end the program.
The missed opportunity left Basurto feeling like an outcast and resentful about her place within her family, she said. Her ambivalence was especially strong toward her U.S.-born siblings -- a 10-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister -- whom she said she loved dearly but couldn't bear to be close to any longer.