New opportunities are in store for Modesto Junior College student Adrián Quiroz who was recently approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Yet the 24-year-old Modesto resident says he would like to see a few things happen once an immigration reform is finalized.
"I know that there are many people, just like me, that would love to see the reform pass. Even though there are many like us, there are also millions of people that think otherwise. I want to prove them all wrong. I think that if they give us the right tools, hence the reform, we will be able to reach our full potential. We will be able to come out of the shadows and prove that we are not a weight for their shoulders," Quiroz said. "This country was founded by immigrants, and we, as immigrants, would like to keep that tradition. We want to make everyone proud, and I know that if we are given the right tool, we will be able to make a change."
Quiroz is not alone.
Students, educators and leaders throughout the state are paying close attention to President Barack Obama's and the U.S. Senators' immigration proposals.
"The current immigration framework offered by the GOE or 'Gang of Eight' seems to be premised on Washington politics more so than responsive policymaking. The GOE framework doesn't fully respond to the demands of immigrant rights organizations that have fought for humane and comprehensive reform for almost a decade.
"The details of immigration reform announced last week are virtually indistinguishable from what President Bush and other leaders put forth in 2007, with the only difference being that the post-election environment makes it more likely that this version of reform can be pushed through," said Javier San Román, South Central Los Ángeles Chapter President of the State Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE). "As educators and advocates we know that we can never fully achieve our goals to advance learning, broaden opportunity, and create tomorrow's leaders if we have to surmount the wall of second class citizenship that is experienced by our students and community. This is why AMAE encourages educators of all backgrounds to join in the call for a humane immigration reform that provides a direct pathway to citizenship and isn't premised on militarizing the border or the workplaces of hard working people who have contributed so much to our country."
Dr. Benjamín T. Durán, current President and CEO of the Great Valley Center and long-time educator and former president of Merced Community College, would like to see an immigration version that everyone can endorse, he said.
"The Senate's version does have some good points that I don't necessarily disagree with because we have had a hard time finding workers, but on the other hand it tells me that here in the United States we are not doing a good job in education, like educating scientists. We're not providing the right education for these folks," Durán said.
Carlos Martínez, who is among hundreds of thousands of DREAMers in California, would like to see a secure pathway to citizenship.
"I came to this country at the age of 11 and am participating in the DACA program," said Martínez, who is a college student and helped found CLOUD, a project with the PICO federation in Contra Costa County to educate and empower DREAMers locally. "DACA isn't a path to citizenship, though, and it excludes a larger group. It excludes my mom, dad, uncle, aunt, cousins, and neighbors. I believe that DREAMERers have the spark to create a movement to make the change we seek for our families, our communities and a strong contributing force for this country, our chosen country."
Roberto G. Gonzales, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, did a ten-year study in various communities with high percentage of undocumented young adults who have been in the U.S. since childhood.
"As a researcher I have asked what happens to undocumented youth as they make critical transitions in young adulthood. The story of these young people tells the tale of the benefits, access and tragedy of exclusion they have faced," Gonzales said. "They have and continue to work tremendously hard and they have tremendous accomplishments despite their legal status -- many of them high school valedictorians, class presidents, highly involved in their communities and attend some of the best, most respected universities but for many of them -- at the end of that educational trajectory, they no longer see available doors open to them."
Gonzales believes that pathway to citizenship for young adults should be included as part of a comprehensive immigration reform.
"For those have really struggled -- balancing family needs, navigating the system, the country, coping with stress and worry that any day, they can be picked up and deported -- hey have had difficulty accepting the hard reality that they are forced to live as partial-Americans, and it really propels us to think about the benefits of legalization, because right now we are seeing the tragedy of exclusion."