DENVER – Colorado DREAMers are hoping for a chance to work legally in the U.S. The DREAM Act, still not passed by Congress, would allow people who were brought to the U.S. undocumented as minors to remain in the country.
Now a stop-gap Obama administration initiative – known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA – makes qualified DREAMers eligible for a two-year work permit. Sonia Martinez is one of those DREAMers. She was brought to the U.S. by her parents when she was seven years old, going to elementary, middle and high schools here.
Martinez says if she went back to Mexico, she’d be starting from zero.
“Let’s say, for instance, I’m here in Mexico, so what’s next? I don’t know anything about the schools, I don’t know anything about being here, living here.”
If Congress were to pass the DREAM Act, it would allow for more permanent status, giving youths a path to U.S. citizenship through education beyond high school, or through military service. Under 5,000 DREAMers have had their DACA applications approved so far, while nearly 200,000 have applied.
Martinez wants to study to become an auto mechanic.
“Hopefully, with that, I’ll be able to get a degree in that and it won’t be hard for me to find a good job.”
She says her interest in auto mechanics was driven by a temperamental car.
“This friend that would tell me that, yeah, he’d be willing to help me, but I had to be there to see what he was doing to my car so I could learn it.”
It’s estimated that 1.4 million youths could qualify for DACA status.
More information is at www.unitedwedream.org.