Meet the DREAMers

Throughout its history, New York has attracted countless immigrants seeking a better life. Our city represents the promise of the American Dream – that with hard work and determination, anyone can succeed. Yet for so many of our neighbors, this dream has remained out of reach. Tens of thousands of young people who grew up in New York are unable to pursue career and education opportunities, solely because they were born on foreign soil. “Deferred Action” brings new hope for these individuals. Who are the “DREAMers”? Meet them below.

CARMELA

Carmela is 21 years old and just graduated this past May from Stonybrook University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies. She excelled academically and wants to pursue a career helping survivors of domestic violence. She is currently an intern at the nonprofit Sanctuary for Families.

A bright, articulate and passionate young woman, Carmela would seem an ideal candidate for any number of jobs and graduate programs. However, she faces a substantial roadblock – she is undocumented. She was born in Colombia and was brought to the U.S. at age six on tourist visa. As a single parent, her mother came to New York seeking a better life for her children, away from the violence in Colombia. Carmela’s proudest accomplishment has been graduating from college despite her ineligibility for most scholarships, loans, and employment due to her lack of legal immigration status. She has already had a number of permanent job offers, all of which she has had to turn down because of her status. Receiving “Deferred Action” would mean Carmela could work legally in the U.S. and earn enough money to afford her dream of going to law school and working in the public interest.

PEDRO & JUAN

Nineteen-year-old Pedro and 22-year-old Juan are brothers. Pedro is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Physics, with a minor in sociology. He dreams of one day attending graduate school for electrical engineering at Columbia University. Juan is also currently attending college and hopes to become an architect.

Even though they have lived in New York City for over 10 years, both brothers are undocumented. They were born in Ecuador and traveled with coyotes across the Mexican border when they were only 9 and 12 years old. Juan was stopped at the border and placed in detention. He was eventually released, but was given an order of removal, which he still carries.

Both Pedro and Juan say their proudest moments were graduating from high school and being accepted to college, which is a big triumph for their family. While both are currently in school, they have serious concerns about how they will find employment upon graduation, having witnessed first-hand their father’s struggles to find work as an undocumented immigrant. Juan is most proud of having recently secured an internship at an architecture firm, despite his lack of status. The promise of “Deferred Action” could give both brothers the opportunity to use their skills and education to earn a living and contribute to society.

MARISOL

Thirty-year-old Marisol is originally from Mexico and crossed the border to the U.S. at age fifteen to be reunited with her undocumented mother who was living in New York. Three months after her arrival, Marisol began working at a local factory. Unaware that she could attend school in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant, she lived in constant fear that the factory would be inspected by immigration officials and that she would be deported.

Marisol now has two children and was recently able to obtain her GED. She has worked for years to provide a better life for her family. If she is granted “Deferred Action,” she will be able to work legally and achieve her dream of becoming a cosmetic saleswoman at a high-end department store. Having lived in the U.S. for more than half her life, Marisol considers New York her home. She would like to spend the rest of her life here, as a legally recognized individual. “Deferred Action” is the first step to securing her future as a working mother.

SERGEI

Twenty-four-year-old Sergei was brought to New York from Russia at the age of nine. Unlike his two sisters, who were both born in the U.S., Sergei is undocumented. Despite having performed well in high school, he has been unable to attend college because of his immigration status. He suffers from feelings of being an outcast, and struggles with having to keep the secret of his status from his friends.

With the possibility of “Deferred Action,” Sergei hopes to attend college and pursue his dream of becoming an architect or an interior designer. He is most excited about the opportunity to work. “I’m glad that I won’t have to live in the shadows anymore,” he explains. “I do consider this country my own—I have been here since I was nine, and I have no reason to move back. I hope that this will lead to a permanent immigration status.”

Learn more about NYLAG’s Deferred Action Assistance Program.