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Progress for Undocumented Students in the United States

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On June 15, 2012, President Barak Obama gave a brief speech on a new Department of Homeland Security Immigration policy. This new policy will benefit thousands of undocumented students living here in the United States that were brought by their parents since they were young children from their native home. A policy called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

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As President Obama mentioned in his speech about what undocumented students are, he mentioned part of a sentence that got to me. President Obama stated the following, “They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one, on paper” (Obama).

This is very true in my point of view, as I have realized exactly just that growing up. As a young girl, I was never told whether or not I was documented or not; whether I was a citizen of where I was growing up or I wasn’t. I was never worried about my legal status in the United States. My main focus has always been school and progressing to be a well-educated citizen that is part of the United States. That’s how I see myself as, as of today; a citizen of the United States, perhaps not in paper, but in heart. This is the place where I have been raised since the age of two, till today at the age of 17 even knowing that I am undocumented.

I love the fact knowing I’m Mexican and will always be by my culture and by a large majority of my family, but that’s not the place I know by heart or grew up. That is not the country that has helped my progress as an individual. It is here in the United States where my hopes and dreams are at for a better future. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals will open job opportunities for undocumented students, avoid being deported back to their native country for at least two years, and give them a sense of hope to apply for college and scholarships, no longer fearing of being denied because they do not have a social security number.

Although the process for this policy will take a while and cost hundreds of dollars, thousands of undocumented students will be thankful for this opportunity given by the Department of Homeland Security Immigration services. As well, as thanking President Obama for making this step by step process a reality. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also known as the DACA policy was first heard of on June 15, 2012. That day President Obama made a public speech that lasted almost nine minutes long explaining how this will help undocumented students living in the United States since they were young children.

The DACA is NOT a path to citizenship right away, but a sense of relief for undocumented students. This policy will has its requirements to be able to apply for it and be eligible. Around Mid-August of 2012, the Department of Homeland Security Immigration services started receiving about 180,000 applications and 4,500 of those applications were eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. However, in the first two months “U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received and accepted for processing 179,794 deferred-action requests” (Fitz, Oakford, Garcia).

In order to be eligible an undocumented student must have been living here in the United States before their 16th birthday, be under the age of 31 years of age, were in the Unites States on June 15, 2012, have proof that they are still attending school or have graduated, serving in the U. S. military, have been living here in the United States for 5 continuous years without leaving the country, and have no felonies, no more than three misdemeanors or significant ones, and not considered a public or national threat (“”).

Proof that can show that you have all those necessary requirements are certificates a student may have received from school, house bills, medical records, even something as simple as old receipts from stores that someone may have. As soon as an undocumented student has all that, they can apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy and will most likely be eligible. Undocumented students come from all over the world, not just Mexico, or Spanish speaking countries as many close-minded people believe.

It is sad how when someone sees a Hispanic/Latino student they automatically think they are undocumented and are from Mexico. That is not always the case. There are Hispanic/Latino students in the United States that are documented. The reason why many parents risk their life to come here to the United States as an immigrant is because they want a better future for their kids. Even when they have children in their native country, they try their best to bring them to the United States along with them as young children so they are able to get a better education and life.

For their kids to be able to receive and have a life that will be a million times better than the one they would have if they stayed in their native country. Every day I am grateful for the risk my mother took for me. For giving me the chance to grow up in a country where I know I am getting a better education. Where I was taught English as my second language and have mastered it just as much as Spanish that is my native language. The United States is where I feel like I am home. Although at times I had the fear of being deported, or have racial comments said to, this is still home.

Mexico is only a country where I was born at, raised for the first two years of my life, but remember nothing about it except in pictures, and not know how it is to live there personally. *This data was taken from the (Fitz, Oakford, Garcia) article. Within their article they have a map where you can zoom in and see exactly where undocumented students that applied for the DACA came from and how many. Here, I did it by region and visualized the number of approximately the thousands of undocumented students are originally from by adding them up region by region.

Australia and Canada are the only two regions where there were not a number of thousand. Only a total of just 9 undocumented students came from Australia and 114 from Canada that applied for the DACA. In total there is an approximately of 172,624 undocumented students. * The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a step by step policy that takes in between 4-6 months to process, as well cost hundreds perhaps even thousands of dollars per undocumented student that can apply and be eligible.

There a 3 forms that must be filled out and processed to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to be looked at and be handled case by case. The 3 forms that MUST be filled out are Form I-821D, the Application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Form I-765, the Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and lastly Form I-765WS, the Employment Authorization Worksheet. There is also a “recommended, but not mandatory” form which is Form G-1145, the E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (“”). On top of those forms that need to be filled out, there are fees.

Form I-821D has a fee of $465, a $380 work authorization fee, and an $85 fee for biometrics. All of those fees put together, already make a total of $930. Additional fees are getting the birth certificate of the undocumented student translated into English, which is usually around $35 and getting a criminal record to prove that, that student had no felonies, misdemeanors, or are a public or national threat in society, which usually costs $25. There, there are an additional $60 added; for a grand total of $990 spend per undocumented student, almost reaching $1,000.

Once all forms, translated birth certificate, criminal record, and the proof necessary that shows that an undocumented students has been here for more than 5 continuous years, still in school, or have already graduated, or are serving in the U. S. military, are gathered together, they are then sent to the United States Citizenship for Immigration Services. There they take a look at case by case that is sent to them. Afterwards, the student will receive an e-mail 1 to 4 weeks later after sending their applications, where they can take a look of their applications progress.

Then, within 2 to 4 months, the student will receive a letter by mail that will have their appointment to go get their biometrics done and the time that they need to be there by. On the day of the appointment, they must bring a type of identification, such as a passport from their native country. Their appointment will be at an Application Support Center also known as an ASC. Lastly, the last thing to do is wait for the approval for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, the working permit for 2 years, along with a social security number.

Once the 2 years are up, they will have to continually re-new their working permit for another 2 years and so on. I have been blessed with the opportunity to be able to go to this process with no problem. Each case may be different for every person, meaning the process may be a long one or a short one. It is just estimated that most will last between 2 to 6 months. With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that the Department of Homeland Security Immigration Services gave to many undocumented students with hopes and dreams, this has lifted a weight off of my shoulders.

I no longer have to wake up every day fearing that I may end up being deported back to my native country. That the next time I hear about a job opening in a place I know I can have a part-time job; I can go in and ask for an application. When I hear about a scholarship, I know I’ll be able to apply for it without have that thought in the back of my mind that I don’t have a social security number. My mother has worked her whole life to give me a better life because she knew that back in Mexico, I was never going to be able to get the opportunities I have here in the United States.

My motivation has always been my mother, to give her break and thank her for everything that she has done for me and has provided me with. As an undocumented student you learn to be thankful for what you have and never take anything for granted. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, has opened much more opportunities for thousands and thousands of undocumented students and myself. School has always been a main priority, and will always be. I can now make my dreams of going to college a reality and make my mother and family members proud.

All thanks to the Department of Homeland Security Immigration Services and President Barak Obama for giving that public announcement for the whole country to hear what undocumented students can go to help progress this country. We are not a threat, but a help for the country to progress economically. We are DREAMERS that will now make our dreams come true. We are fighting in the nations forces to protect this country. We are citizens of the United States in heart. As President Obama, mentioned in his speech, “It is the right thing to do” (Obama).