by Luis Suarez
Like many other undocumented students, Claudia Villasenor was astonished by a bold move that President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security made in June with the announcement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Villasenor, who arrived to the United States at age two from Michoacan, Mexico, has gained hope after being devastated by the Dream Act failing to pass in Congress.
DACA defers undocumented individuals who meet certain criteria from being deported and having an opportunity to receive a temporary two-year work permit, if the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves them.
The criteria includes arriving in the U.S. before the age of 16, showing proof of U.S. residency for five years continuously before June 15, 2012, having no criminal background and proof of graduation from a high school or being currently enrolled.
For Villasenor, the possibility of obtaining a work permit can be a life-altering opportunity. She is currently a full-time student at Chaffey, majoring in political science. She said that she was barely able to pay fall semester’s tuition as a consequence of her status.
This semester she found herself debating whether to pay for her tuition or her medicine. Villasenor suffers from glaucoma.
“I’m struggling monetarily, going to school and paying for my personal expenses,” Villasenor said. “But at least now I know that my education will not be in vain once I graduate — if I do qualify for deferred action.”
The deferred action application was released on Aug. 15 and it comes with a fee of $465. DACA will not give residency or citizenship to undocumented individuals. This is an issue people have confused with the Federal Dream Act.
Many attorneys, lawyers and notaries have jumped on this issue and are charging $500-$1,700 to fill out the application.
“I actually attended a deferred action clinic that an organization was hosting,” Villasenor said. “It was very informational and it gave me an understanding of the process before going to a lawyer. Especially since I seen all this false advertisements about being able to receive a resident card through DACA.”
Organizations like the Latino Roundtable in Pomona, the Immigrant Youth Coalition and United We Dream have been offering aid to those who are applying by hosting deferred action clinics.
“Now, all I can do is wait,” Villasenor said. “Am I nervous that this application will be used against me? Yes. But after all, I am living with the chance of being deported every single day, and I know there is a movement out there that supports me, which is why I am truly undocumented and unafraid.”
photo illustration by Julie Cosgrove, background from Brian Norcross, courtesy http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/free_stock_image/stormcloudsjpg” target=”_blank”> freeimageslive.co.uk – BrianNorcross