Interview: DACA recipient en route to U.S. Citizenship
Where were you born?  Zacatecas, Mexico
When did you come to the U.S.? How old were you? Why did you and/or your family decide to come?    I was brought to the U.S. in 1998 when I was 5 years old. I had no idea why we were coming! Now I’m 28 years old, and I know why: my parents wanted to give us a better opportunity and a better way of life!
When you first moved to the U.S., what were the biggest differences from living in Mexico to living here?   I was very young when I was brought to the U.S. I did all my schooling here, starting with kindergarten. I immersed myself completely into the food, language, culture, and way of life in the United States. The only thing that seemed odd to me was not being able to see some of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents who were still living in Mexico.
When did you first file for DACA?   I first filed for DACA in 2012 and was approved early 2013, but not with ODIS. I am glad that I finally made the switch to ODIS for the renewal though. They have been with me in my journey to US Citizenship ever since!
How did you hear about ODIS?  Close family and friends   recommended ODIS when I needed to renew my DACA for the first time. I had had a bad experience with the first place I filed DACA with. I needed a change. I needed someone who truly cared about the individuals, their families, their community, and did things in a timely manner. I found ODIS!
How did filing for DACA impact your life?    I was 19 years old and in college. I was in school to be a teacher and coach. Because of my status, I was unsure if I would ever be able to finish college and be able to actually teach, motivate, and positively influence students like my teachers had done with me. Then the DACA announcement was made, and it truly changed my life and helped me get out of the shadows! It opened so many doors for me. I was finally able to get something as simple as a driver's license, something that most of my friends had gotten when they turned 16. At 20 years old, after being approved for DACA, I got my 1st driver’s license!  I could continue to drive and go to school without the fear of being pulled over and not having documentation. When I graduated from the University of North Texas, I was able to begin teaching and coaching right away. Everything fell into place for me. I am now in my 6th year as a teacher and coach! DACA allowed me to finish school, get a great job where I get to positively influence students and adults every day, build my house, get married and support my family. I have been blessed!
What are your thoughts on DACA and its future? DACA opens doors and gives those who may have never had the opportunity to better themselves and make a positive difference every day. DACA should be affordable and have a pathway to citizenship. Most individuals who are approved for DACA are “US citizens” in every way possible already, except for the documentation. Hard working and law-abiding individuals should get an opportunity to be proud of being a citizen of this great country.
When did you file for your advance parole and why*?
My advance parole was approved in June of 2016. I needed to see and help my grandmother. Way before DACA, she was able to come visit us on her own, but then she suffered a stroke in Mexico. It affected her mobility and way of life. She was not able to come for years. When she finally built up the strength and courage to come, she unfortunately suffered a 2nd stroke while in the U.S. and this one was worse. When she finally went back home to Mexico after a month-long stay in a U.S. hospital, I knew that because of my status then and her advanced age I probably would never be able to see her again. Luckily, ODIS helped me out every step of the way. My advance parole petition was approved, and I was able to be reunited with my grandmother and help out where I could.
[Advance Parolepermit to reenter the U.S. without a visa after traveling abroad]
How did you feel going back to Mexico after such a long time? Think about it: I was brought to the US at the age of 5. So being able to go to Mexico and reunite with my grandmother and the rest of my family that still lived there was like a dream, after more than 18 years! It was a very exciting and emotional experience. Tears were definitely shed on arrival and departure.
Was the process for filing difficult? I am sure that if I had done everything on my own, it would have been a difficult experience, but ODIS made things easy.
When did you file for permanent residence, and how were you able to file?   In August of 2017. My wife, Mariela, is a U.S. Citizen. We got married in May of 2017, after dating since September of 2010.
How was the overall process of applying for residence and how does it make you feel? At first, the process felt new and unknown. There were a lot of questions, and things I just didn't know. Thankfully, ODIS helped me answer those questions and guided me through the process. There is nothing like being represented by a group who is professional and knows what they are doing.
This interview was conducted by our newest staff member, Jadzya Jaqueline Terrazas Aguirre, a UNT student

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Butterfly artwork by Blanca Tovar, DACA recipient


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