By: Emmanuel Villegas
Imagine sleeping on the sidewalk in 90+ degree Arizona weather with only a manila envelope full of documents as your pillow. To the average youth, this may seem like the ultimate torture. To others, it may seem as the norm as they await the release of the newest smart phone or the latest version of that coveted videogame. But to a select few, this sacrifice is only the beginning of a bright future.
It has been more than four months since President Barack Obama announced his plans to implement the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in the United States. Ever since his announcement for an August 15th start date it seems as though non-profit organizations such as our own have been on a non-stop mission to complete as many DACA applications as humanly possible. Since day 1, Chicanos Por La Causa has been at the forefront of leading hundreds of DACA-eligible youth to achieving their dreams of finally being recognized as fully-integrated members in our society.
As an Immigration Counselor within Chicanos Por La Causa, I have witnessed the full extent of how much a young person’s life can change with simply the creation of a new category for deferred action in the United States. Dreams of working hard to save up for college, of earning wages to help contribute to their household, and of finally being able to hold their heads up high when inquired about their immigration status by fellow students come alive when they cross the threshold into our offices.
It has been a very rewarding experience working with the youth in our community in perhaps the biggest advancement in immigration policy since the introduction of the LIFE Act Provision implemented in 2001. For the most part, the youth that we have interacted with realize that this DACA is only a temporary fix to a broken immigration system but at the same time, true hope glistens in their eyes as they sign away the requestor portion of their I-821D forms. It is our duty as community-based organizations to help make sure that the glow never goes out.
*Emmanuel Villegas has provided immigration services to families in Arizona and rural Mexico for over five years. He is the Lead Immigration Counselor at CLINIC affiliate, Chicanos Por La Causa.