By DEYVID MORALES
It all started one morning on January 4, 2011 while I was riding a Greyhound bus from Utah to Louisiana to attend college. I was just 45 minutes away when my bus came to a stop for an unexpected immigration checkpoint. This was my first experience with immigration officers and it wasn’t pretty. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) checked my immigration status and found out that I was an undocumented immigrant. I was immediately arrested and taken to an immigration detention center. I cried because I thought I was never going to see my family again or accomplish my dreams, since I never made it to school and instead I was waiting for my deportation to Mexico.
After 17 days in jail I was released on bond and returned back to Utah. At this point I had a tiny window of hope but suddenly my ICE deportation officer threaten to deport me and my family if we spoke out to the media or asked for help. As a very scared teenager I stayed silent for 6 months living every day in fear until I found strength through the help of local activists, lawyers, legislators and publicly shamed the officer for unlawful threats. He was immediately moved to another department. This was the moment I learned that speaking out and coming out of the shadows was our only option.
My case was “Administratively Closed” on March 3, 2012 but I was back to being an undocumented immigrant. Later that summer I obtained D.A.C.A (Deffered Action) since I met the requirements. This executive action opened the doors to a bigger window of opportunity as far as my work and education. At this point I thought I was never going to deal with immigration officers again in my life, but little did I know that…
Forwarding to a few years later… I obtained a job working for the Consulate of Mexico in Utah as part of the “Consular Protection” department and one of my responsibilities was obtaining “Humanitarian Visas” for the family members of Mexican nationals who were hospitalized and in critical conditions so that they could come take care of them or to say their farewells. I was able to now work with DHS (Department of Homeland Security) & CBP. I was able to get a visa for 86 families.
I was also in charge of sending deceased bodies to Mexico as we know that many of us don’t feel like this is our home and some want to be buried “en la tierra que nos vio nacer” so I would work with funeral homes and immigration officers from both the U.S. and Mexico.
And last but not least, I worked very closely with my local and district USCIS offices since the Consulate teamed up to get Mexican nationals registered to become Citizens for this year’s election. Now I found myself in an interesting situation because I had experienced the worst of the immigration system, yet I was working with them to get people work permits and a permanent immigration status. We also worked on a few DACA workshops. This past spring, I was also able to obtain “Advance Parole” and had the opportunity to fly to Sonora, Mexico for a specific case that I was working on and once again I dealt with CBP officers as they were in charge of deciding whether or not I could return back into the United States. Luckily I got a stamp on my parole document and I am now applying for legal permanent residency since I’m married to a U.S. Citizen.
I recently stopped working for the Mexican government to focus 100% on my app “DACA Scholars” that informs undocumented and DACAmented students of scholarship opportunities and my personal education. It is very interesting to see how all of these agencies changed my life one way or another. From agents who tried to deport me and threaten my family, to officers that have helped me and guided me through rough times. It has been a roller coaster with the government but now I am able to use this information and my experience to help others who may need help as they navigate through this crazy and complex immigration system. Crazy thing is now I am attending college like I originally planned even if it is a couple years later and I am majoring in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. I hope to one-day work for the Embassy of Mexico or the United Nations but I am also happy being an Apptivist and helping my community in a local level.
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Categories: Personal stories