When *Qing’s mom got the opportunity to leave China in 1994 and study in the United States she was faced with a difficult decision.  Her student visa did not allow her to work in the U.S., so she had to leave little Qing behind in China with family. At first Qing’s mother was fortunate, after completing her studies she was offered a job and granted a work visa.  As a result, five years later, Qing’s mom was able to reunite the family by bringing Qing to Chicago.

Qing did well in school and adjusted to the new culture quickly.  Although she was from a different country, her upbringing in the suburbs of Chicago was similar to her classmates----until she turned 12-years-old.  In 2001, Qing and her mother learned that their attorney missed the filing deadline to renew their visas---leaving them undocumented and without a remedy.  Without legal status, Qing’s life changed considerably.

As she got older, she was not able to attain milestones like her peers.  She could not get a driver’s license, work, or attend college.  Qing and her mom faced the possibility of deportation every day, even though life in the U.S. was virtually all Qing had ever known.

In May of 2003, the Illinois House Bill 60 opened-up new educational opportunities for undocumented students after high school.  As a result, Qing was able to attend and graduate from one of Chicago’s top universities; however, she was not able to pursue a career---until August 2012.

On June 15, 2012, President Obama issued a memo calling for pro-active deferral of deportation for certain young people who were brought to the U.S. as children.  The executive order, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, allows children who meet specific criteria to apply for a type of permission to be in the United States for two-years.  While it is not a path to permanent residency or citizenship, if the applicant is accepted, he or she can get a Social Security number, and Employment Authorization Card, and obtain a Driver’s License---depending on the state.

When Qing heard about the DACA program she wasted no time gathering all of the required records that she would need for her application.  And upon being accepted into the DACA program, she landed a job in her field.

“Now I have the ability to contribute to the country where I was raised and be self-sufficient, “said Qing.

Furthermore, DACA gave Qing the opportunity to apply for “Advance Parole” giving her permission to travel to China to visit aging family members, with an approval for re-admittance back into the U.S.  Because DACA is a two-year authorization, Qing is currently in the process of renewing her application, but hopes for the opportunity to become an American citizen one day.

Camilia Rubiano has a similar story.  She was just six-years-old when she was brought to the United States from Colombia.  According to Camilia, as a kid her legal status was never an issue because kids don’t talk about citizenship; they just treat each other the same.

During her sophomore year in high school, her mom heard about DACA and encouraged her daughter to look into it---this was the first time she realized that she was undocumented.

“This was the first time I understood why having a Social Security number mattered,” said Camilia.

Camilia applied and was accepted for DACA in 2012 and is also in the process of renewing her application.  With DACA she was able to obtain a driver’s license and a work permit.  Currently, she is studying towards a nursing degree at College of DuPage and working two jobs to support herself.   Although DACA has provided opportunities, Camilia would like to be a U.S. citizen and have a voice as a voter. And while she would like to visit Colombia one day, she considers the U.S. her home.

*For the protection of our client, we have changed her name to Qing for the purpose of retelling her story. 

Click here to learn more about DACA and the DACA renewal process.  To schedule an appointment with Immigrant Legal Services call 630-462-7660 for the Wheaton office and 630-264-3171 for the Aurora office.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Because DACA is an executive order and not a law; it can be revoked at any time.  According to the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of evangelical leaders, the only true remedy is for immigration law to be reformed to meet the current realities of our country.   As a partner organization, World Relief believes that our national immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis; therefore, our nation’s leaders need to work with the American people to pass immigration reform that: respects the God-given dignity of every person; protects the unity of the immediate family; respects the rule of law; guarantees secure national borders; ensures fairness to taxpayers; and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.  Click here to learn more about the Evangelical Immigration Table and how you can take a stand for comprehensive immigration reform.