Obama’s Life-Changing Directive

What an exciting week! Obama’s announcement on Friday has changed everything for many of us. Imagine – a social security card! A real job! Walking around without fear of being taken by la migra! We celebrated with our families and then attended a local press conference on Monday where we talked about our excitement and also learned about the details of the application process that will begin in the next few months. In the picture above you will see Alma from the book, third from left. Several of us sat on stage and shared with the audience our emotions and dreams. Back in 2010, several of us attended a press conference in the same location as we mourned the fact that the Dream Act did not pass. At the 2010 press conference, we all wore bandanas over our faces to protect our identities and undocumented status (there’s a picture in the book). This week, there were no bandanas and we all proudly showed our faces as we sat behind signs that read, “Undocumented. Unafraid.”

This is a very exciting time for us!

Here’s the full newspaper article from the Skagit Valley Herald, Tuesday, 6/19/12:


Local undocumented students happy with Obama’s decision


MOUNT VERNON — One student wants to be a doctor, another a chef, and still another hopes to go to college. All say they’re relieved by President Obama’s decision last week to sign an executive order halting the deportations of young people like them.

A group of 13 students gathered Monday afternoon at a local church to talk about how the president’s decision and the Department of Homeland Security’s policy change toward the children of illegal immigrants could affect their futures.

“It’s going to change my life,” said student Maria Macedo of the policy change. Now, if she is approved and receives a work permit, she will help her parents and, she said, “… have the opportunity to complete my dreams.”

Macedo and the others openly told their stories Monday evening while smiling over two handwritten signs reading: Unafraid, Undocumented. Their openness was in stark contrast to a 2010 gathering when local students advocating for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act covered their faces with bandannas to conceal their identities.

The DREAM Act would allow people who grew up in the United States and graduated from high school to gain temporary residency and then possible permanent residency after six years.    Though the DREAM Act has stalled in Congress, President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced Friday that young people eligible for the provisions of the DREAM Act can currently receive relief from deportation on a caseby-case basis. The new mandate would not lead to citizenship, but participants could receive a work permit good for two years, subject to renewal.

“I couldn’t really believe it,” said student Marceina Mendoza about hearing the news. “… I just feel so much relief.”

This new mandate calls for young people to satisfy certain requirements for relief from deportation and approval for a work permit. Participants must have come to the U.S. before the age of 16 and be 30 or younger, have lived in the United States since at least June 15, 2007, and be currently enrolled in school, have graduated, earned a GED or been honorably discharged from the military.

A clean record also is a must. The mandate will allow Homeland Security to focus resources on higher priority cases, including illegal immigrants with felonies, according to a memo from Homeland Security.

The mandate is a step in the right direction, said Carol Edward, an immigration attorney associated with the Washington State Chapter of American Immigration Lawyers Association.

“It doesn’t help students very much if they don’t have a way to work and support themselves,” she told the crowd Monday.

But under the happiness and relief lingers uncertainty, and some fear that this opportunity could be taken away.

“Now (Obama’s) saying specifically that the dreamers are not going to be deported, but how it’s going to play out is not clear,” said the Rev. Jo Beecher of the Skagit Immigrant Rights Council that sponsored Monday’s gathering along with several other immigrant advocates.

Though there are certain guidelines, the procedures will not be known until August, she said. Information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services advises people not to apply yet, as the process is not yet ready.

The mandate is not a change in law, so there’s the risk that the order could be rescinded by another administration, and also the chance that undocumented students seeking deportation relief could be hurt by unscrupulous or incompetent people offering help, Beecher said.

The Skagit Immigrant Rights Council and its allies are planning workshops and meetings to help answer questions and assist people through the process.

“It’s really the kids,” Beecher said. “They’re willing to take the risks and be out there and say, this is the right thing.”

Erinn Unger can be reached at 360-416-2141 or eunger@skagitpub lishing.com. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/schools_svh.

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