DACA

DACA Protects Young, Productive Adults & Families

Constanza Was Nearly Deported to a Country that was No Longer Her Own

When Constanza was just 10 years old, extreme poverty and generalized violence drove her family from their home in Mexico. They left everything familiar to immigrate to the U.S.

THE DACA PROGRAM FUELED HER DRIVE TO SUCCEED

The family ended up in Council Bluffs where her parents found low-paying jobs, but a safe, decent life. When Constanza was 18 years old, she applied for a 2-year temporary work permit through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Constanza knew the DACA program was an important opportunity for her future. She became an eager student who wanted to make her parents proud. She received a scholarship to attend a college in Omaha and then married her high school sweetheart. Their daughter was born the following year. There was just one challenge that remained, threatening their family’s future – Costanza’s lack of status to allow her to remain in the U.S. indefinitely.

Before graduation, the young couple came to JFON-NE because they heard Constanza’s husband, a U.S. citizen, could help her obtain lawful status. They soon found that the process for Constanza would not be simple. Even though she was only a child at the time of her entry, because she crossed the border without permission, she didn’t qualify to apply for residency from within the United States. To make matters worse, if Constanza were to leave the country, she also faced a 10-year penalty that would prevent her from returning to the U.S. unless granted a waiver. Constanza was terrified by the possibility of being separated from her family and alone for 10 years in a country she barely remembered.

EDUCATION PROVIDED THE KEY TO RESIDENCY

Fortunately, Constanza qualified for advanced parole, which allowed her to travel outside the U.S. for educational purposes. JFON-NE helped her apply for a travel permit—called advanced parole—for a college class abroad. She was thrilled about the class, which helped her complete a credit requirement for her degree.

After the class ended, Constanza’s legal return to the U.S. on the travel permit also cleared the way for her to apply for residency without having to return to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico or seek a waiver of the ten-year penalty. After about six months, Constanza was approved for lawful permanent residency. Now this young woman has a stable immigration status that allows her to live and work in the United States indefinitely—with her family.