Catholic Charities is the only non-profit in Maricopa County that provides low-cost legal help with immigration. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy that enables certain undocumented immigrants that came to the United States as children to avoid deportation and receive a renewable two year work permit. Jose Maldonado shares his story of coming to the United States (U.S.) as a child and getting help from Catholic Charities to secure a future.
Coming to America
I was brought to the U.S. from Mexico at a very young age by my parents. Money was scarce in Mexico, and education, being very expensive, was limited.
It was very difficult to make a living in Mexico. My dad’s cousins and brothers had already gone to the U.S. My dad made a choice between staying in Mexico or dropping everything to start fresh in a new country with nothing. He chose to take his family to an unknown land filled with opportunity where dreams come true, well, as they say.
Struggle and Sacrifice
Ever since I was young, I remember the struggle and the sacrifices that both my parents made in their lives for a better future, not just for me, but for the future family.
Over the past 20 years, I was unable to work and my dad was the only one with a job. We have seen many, many struggles from being fired, to losing jobs, losing homes, and many other losses. I felt like he needed help, but my mom and I were unable to work, because we didn’t have the necessary documents. We felt really helpless.
My dad wanted the best for us and kept working hard so that my sister, two brothers and I could go to school. I graduated from North Canyon High School and wanted to continue schooling in college. This was another struggle; I would have to pay higher tuition as an international student. Then I tried other private schools like massage school but because of my legal status I was still not eligible to work.
DACA Brings Hope for the Future
Then one day, we heard some beautiful news, a bill called DACA had passed. We were so excited, that we quickly began to gather all the information needed and all the papers that were required. With Catholic Charities help, we applied as quickly as possible. Through the whole time, all I could think was, "Finally, I’m going to go to school, I’m going to get a job and finally I would be able to help my dad."
I was approved! Within three years of having DACA, I got two jobs and applied for school at Arizona School of Massage Therapy. I graduated from the school and got my driver’s license. I still continue with my two jobs as I am buidling my clientele for my own private practice.
We also buying our own new house. And all this happened because of DACA, which gave us a taste of the American dream.