On Friday, June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a two year reprieve from deportation for young adults who were brought to the United States as children. Annually, 3 million students graduate from US high schools; 65,000 are undocumented. I was one of them. I was born in Honduras and brought to the United States by my mother as a child when I was ten years old. Since I was 14 years old, I dreamed of becoming an attorney. I graduated high school with a 3.4/4.0 GPA, a Criminal Justice Certificate and fifteen college credits, but I could not go to college because I was undocumented.
Fortunately for me, in 2007, I was granted Temporary Protective Status which allows immigrants to remain in the United States temporarily because it is unsafe for them to return to their home country. I was able to work legally and to attend college with Temporary Protective Status. Still, I was not eligible for any federal aid therefore I worked full time and went to Florida Atlantic University full time, graduating in 2010. I will be starting Law School this August.
President Obama’s new change in immigration policy will temporarily benefit more than 800,000 young adults nationally. It will temporarily benefit 200,000 young adults in Florida. But, it will not grant a pathway to permanent status. Consequently, Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois has been urging the U.S. Congress for the last decade to pass the DREAM Act which would allow a select group of undocumented students who have proved themselves as well as students with great potential to contribute more fully to America.
The DREAM Act would give these students a chance to earn a pathway to citizenship if they:
- Came to the U.S. as children (15 or under)
- Are long-term U.S. residents (continuous physical presence for at least five years)
- Have good moral character
- Graduate from high school or obtain a GED
- Complete two years of college or military service in good standing
- Be under the age of 29 years old when the bill becomes law.
The DREAM Act has broad bipartisan support in Congress and from United States citizens. In the 111th Congress, the DREAM Act passed the House and received a strong bipartisan majority vote from 55 Senators. But the bill failed to reach the 60-vote threshold necessary to end debate on the Senate floor on December 2010.
My experience with the immigration system has inspired me to pursue a career as an immigration attorney. I desire to help others to pursue their passion, to fight for their dreams, and to make a positive difference so we may find a pathway to citizenship.