AILA's Pro Bono Newsletter

Pro Bono Newsletter, Summer 2013

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DACA Is Not Enough, Says DREAMer enrollment in graduate school was delayed and I missed important deadlines for scholarships. Like other undocumented students throughout the country, I was not eligible for loans." by Diana Fakhrai D eferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been beneficial for many undocumented immigrants. For some, such as those who didn't even know were undocumented until they applied to college or for a job, it has presented new opportunities. However, some of my clients have been hesitant to apply for DACA or have not found it to be a solution. As a sophomore at Harvard, Gloria Montiel, the star of undocumented filmmaker Marcos Nieve's film Almost American, approached her resident advisor to ask if there was any way that Harvard could help with her immigration status. The answer: "Forget this conversation came up because we are supposed to report any crime that is committed." Gloria says, "There was a clear disconnect. The admissions office had accepted me, had made it a point to accept others like me, but even then, arguably the best university in the nation was unable to properly assist us, and there was still the perception that we were somehow doing something wrong. Because of my status, my Gloria's lack of status has also caused her emotional pain. When her cousin passed away in Texas, she was unable to be with her family because she could not afford the travel expenses. "Two weeks later, my grandmother passed away in Mexico, and I was unable to travel there because of my status," says Gloria. However, Gloria does not want pity. "I have not been a victim of my circumstances. I have made the best out of my situation and have given my heart and soul to use the skills I have learned in my community, to help students carve out a path to success. I spent the year in between college and graduate school teaching a group of students in a summer academy that I cocreated. I don't take things for granted. I am grateful for the opportunity that I received to go to Harvard; I know that not everyone could say that, regardless of immigration status." As for DACA, Gloria has mixed feelings. "When I learned about DACA, I was very confused. I was excited, but somewhat hesitant and even a bit scared. I was thankful that something had finally come to protect many of my friends and give them the opportunities that they had fought for tirelessly. At the same time, I felt that it was not a solution to the issue of having millions of people without status. WATCH! See Gloria's struggle in Marco Nieve's documentary, "Almost American", Parts One, Two, and Three. "DACA does not address the fundamental issue of a broken immigration system, of a person's humanity, nor does it take into account the contributions that people like me have already made and will continue to make throughout their life in the United States." DACA does not address the fundamental issue of a broken immigration system, of a person's humanity, nor does it take into account the contributions that people like me have already made and will continue to make throughout their life in the United States. We are all productive members of society who have given back just as much or more than we have used the opportunities available. I also understand, however, that this small victory is to be celebrated and to be taken advantage of while it still exists. It has been difficult for me to come to terms with the benefits versus the implications that this type of policy has on the humanity of people, but it is definitely a step in the right direction." Gloria is currently studying for her Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate University. She is hoping for an immigration reform that honors the undocumented immigrants who contribute to society and who are Americans at heart. Diana G. Fakhrai is a member of the AILA National Pro Bono Services Committee and Co-Chair of the AILA SoCal Chapter New Members Division. www.aila.org 2

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