|August 6, 2012 • VOL. 50, NO. 13 • Oakland, CA|
JOSÉ LUIS AGUIRRE/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
New hope for undocumented youth in US
Lourdes recalls with nostalgia her senior year, and her dream of being an engineer cut short when she discovered a secret her parents had kept from her about her past.
"I did not know what to do. It took several months to accept my situation and forgive my parents. They did what they thought was best for me, and I do not blame them," she says.
On June 15 President Obama said the US would stop the deportation of, or the beginning of deportation proceedings for some young people who were brought to America as children. The announcement gave Lourdes new hope "body and soul."
Krsna Avila, legal services manager at the organization Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC), whose mission is to help undocumented students, had an experience similar to that of Lourdes.
Avila was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and came to the East Bay when he was 4 months old. Thanks to a petition by his parents, six months ago Avila managed to achieve legal status.
Since 2001, when the federal Dream Act was first introduced, he has become an advocate for students and believes that the new Obama decision will allow for thousands of undocumented youths who consider this their country to remain here legally.
Now, the government can grant a "deferred action," legal relief for between 15 and 30 years old and grant a work permit for two years which may be renewed, and a Social Security number.
"I cried when the announcement was made. They were tears of joy but also frustration that many of my friends, family and community members may not be covered," Avila said. It is estimated that about 100,000 young people in the Bay Area will benefit from the Obama change.
Those young people who are in deportation proceedings are covered by the change now. Remaining youths must wait until Aug. 15 to submit their requests, at which time the federal government should provide a process and instructions.
This is the key that will open doors that had been closed, Lourdes said.
This is a first step Avila said. It shows "our efforts can make changes to the policies of this country."
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