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8 Ways Immigration has Hurt Young People

It’s time for a change and Jose Antonio Vargas is leading the charge. The Define American founder launched a new campaign, Coming Out, to give undocumented Americans a virtual community to unite, empower and work toward an immigration reform. Why would someone “come out” for immigration? As Vargas says, “We ‘come out’ to let people in.” Here are some men and women that have come out.

Katherine Vieiramendes

Wife of Brazilian Immigrant

Credit: Katherine Vieiramendes/Facebook

“In Rodrigo I see somebody who embodies all that it means to be American. He holds himself to a high standard every day.”

US-born Katherine Vieiramendes joined the campaign for her husband Rodrigo who migrated from Brazil at 22. Katherine’s eyes opened after seeing her husband work 12-hour, back-breaking construction shifts in order for them to survive.

Julio Navarrete

Mexico

Credit: Julio Navarrete/Facebook

“I’m shattered, like a broken mirror, reflecting my fragmented reality. How do I pick up the pieces and move on?”

After working three jobs and going to school full-time to become a teacher, Julio Navarrete was alerted by the human resources department at Downtown College Prep that his social security number. His only hope for residency is through the DREAM Act.

Nick & Eloisa Haynes

Mexico

Credit: Nick-Eloisa Haynes/Facebook

“There are no laws in effect to protect me or my family from this. While politicians debate, millions of families like mine are being torn apart.”

Nick and Eloisa received a letter from the government saying she is permanently barred from becoming a U.S. citizen. They revoked her legal permanent residency because because she lied about her citizenship in college. She says she is left with no choice but to return to Mexico. Her husband, an American citizen, has decided to follow Eloisa to Mexico.

Fernando Sacoto

Ecuador

Credit: Fernando Sacoto/Facebook

“The problem is that the only people that get visas are the people that have money. The poor people, they never get a visa.” 

Fernando Sacoto says he had to immigrate illegally because the legal immigration process for the U.S. discriminates against the poor. He dedicated countless nights while at war and in military training to learn the English language to fully assimilate. Fernando says it took “fighting during a hostile time” in 2006 for him to become a citizen.


WATCH: Man Harasses Latinos for Papers in a Restaurant, Peoples Reactions Captured on Video


Esmy Jimenez

Mexico

Credit: Esmy Jimenez/Facebook

“I learned that I did not, as a human being, belong to this nation. That twisted sentiment was always a painful one to come to terms with. That I was unwanted. That my existence was ‘illegal.'”

Esmy Jimenez’s mother brought her to the U.S. when she was one year old, fleeing an abusive husband and extreme poverty. As she grew up, she heard the politicians and some Americans talking about the problem of illegal immigration making her feel like “a thing.” She is now at the University of Southern California on a full tuition, merit-based scholarship.

Ashley Brooke Sims-Pecina

Wife of a Mexican Immigrant

Credit: Ashley Brooke Sims-Pecina/Facebook

“I understand why there is a need to pass something, but honestly does it need to be so harsh? Immigrants are people too! And one of those people just happen to be my soul mate.”

Ashley Sims-Pecina was born and raised in Alabama and that’s where she met her husband Michael Pecina. Years after they met, Michael came out to Ashley as undocumented. Living in Alabama, the state with the harshest anti-immigrant laws, leaves Ashley with a constant fear of losing her husband because he is still undocumented.

READ: Gabriela Ledezma’s Turn at the American Dream

Julián Gómez

Argentina

Credit: Julián G. Gómez/Facebook

“While I can, thankfully now, legally work and travel domestically, and I know in my heart that I am an American, I’m still waiting for my country to recognize me as such.”

Julián Gómez was brought to Miami with his sister after their parents’ store in Argentina was robbed. Julián lived as an undocumented American until he applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. That was not enough to offer him the same benefits other American citizens receive for higher education. Julián was unable to get federal student loans because he did not have a green card. He is now buried under a crushing private loan debt he is trying to pay off working as a digital analyst in Washington D.C.

Ariana Aparicio – Mexico

Credit: Ariana Aparicio/Facebook

“It was important for me to come out because I needed to reveal, for myself, and for those who come after me, that there is hope and that there is a way out.”

Ariana Aparicio was born in Mexico but the U.S. is her home and the only country she knows. Ariana has been open about her undocumented status since she was in college and coming out then offered her resources to get the education she needed to follow her dream of educating her community. Ariana hopes that, through education, the undocumented community can create a permanent change that will benefit everyone.

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

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Alejandro Mayorkas Is The First Latino And Immigrant To Be Named Secretary Of The Department Of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas is Cuban-born and was one of the original architects of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to be confirmed as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Mayorkas is inheriting a Trump-era DHS and is immediately getting to work to rectify issues that the Biden administration has highlighted. Two of the most pressing issues are heading up a task force to reunite migrant families who were separated by the previous administration and reviewing the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

“Remain in Mexico” is a policy that the Trump administration created and enforced that sent migrants to Mexico to await their asylum cases. The policy has been criticized both by U.S. and international politicians as a humanitarian issue.

It isn’t Mayorkas’ first time working for DHS.

Sec. Mayorkas was the deputy secretary of DHS from December 2013 – October 2016 under President Barack Obama. During that time, Mayorkas was crucial in responding to the 2013 – 14 Ebola virus epidemic and 2015 – 16 Zika virus epidemic. Mayorkas is ready to come back to the department and to bring back what he sees are the department’s mission.

“DHS bears an extraordinary weight on behalf of the American people, the weight of grave challenges seen and unseen,” Sec. Mayorkas said in a statement. “It is the greatest privilege of my life to return to the Department to lead the men and women who dedicate their talent and energy to the safety and security of our nation. I will work every day to ensure that they have the tools they need to execute their missions with honor and integrity. The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values. The United States is a welcoming and empathetic nation, one that finds strength in its diversity. I pledge to defend and secure our country without sacrificing these American values.”

Mayorkas is no stranger to working on America’s immigration system.

Mayorkas is one of the original architects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which is at stake because of the previous administration. The Biden administration has made a promise to preserve DACA and to create a pathway to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S.

President Biden has introduced legislation to reform the current immigration system. The legislation has a timeframe for all undocumented people in the U.S. to become citizens if they follow certains steps and meet certain criteria.

While Mayorkas got bipartisan support in the Senate confirmation, some Republicans did not like his work in immigration. Sen. Marco Rubio, a fellow Cuban, voted to opposed Mayorkas.

“Not only has Mayorkas pledged to undo the sensible protections put in place by the Trump Administration that ended the dangerous policy of catch and release, but his nomination is further evidence that the Biden Administration intends to pursue a radical immigration agenda,” Sen. Rubio said in a statement.

READ: President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

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President Biden Introduces Legislation To Create Pathway To Citizenship For 11 Million Undocumented People

President Joe Biden promised that he would introduce legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. The president has followed through with the promise and all eyes are on the government as millions wait to see what happens next.

President Joe Biden has been busy the first couple of weeks of his presidency.

President Biden is proposing a pathway to citizenship that millions of people in the U.S. have been asking for. There are around 11 million people who are undocumented in the U.S. The pathway to citizenship will take time, according to the legislation, but some people will have time shaved off of their pathway, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, and farm workers who have worked throughout the pandemic.

The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 is designed to change the immigration system that has created a backlog of immigration cases. There are multiple steps in the proposed legislation starting with creating a pathway to citizenship. Those who would benefit from the bill are people who are physically in the U.S. by January 2, 2021.

First, the bill allows for people to apply for temporary legal status. After five years, and if the person passes a criminal and national security background check, they can apply for a green card. Three years after that, people who pass further background checks and demonstrate a knowledge of English and civics can apply for citizenship.

A line in the bill aims to help people deported during the previous administration.

“The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may waive the presence requirement for those deported on or after January 20, 2017, who were physically present for at least three years prior to removal for family unity and other humanitarian purposes,” reads the proposed legislation.

The bill also wants to change the word “alien” to “noncitizen” in immigration laws to embrace the country’s stance as a country of immigrants.

The legislation has been introduced and now immigration activists are waiting to see it happen.

The legislation tackles several issues that have plagued the immigration system in the U.S. The bill proposes increasing visa limits for certain countries, keeping families together, removing discrimination against LGBTQ+ families, and so many other initiatives to start reforming the immigration system.

President Biden has been offering executive orders that are in the same vein as the bill. Many have aimed as fixing issues that were created by the previous administration and the president is not hiding from it.

“There’s a lot of talk, with good reason, about the number of executive orders I’ve signed. I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office while signing executive orders. “What I’m doing is taking on the issues that, 99 percent of them, that the last president of the United States issued executive orders I thought were counterproductive to our national security, counterproductive to who we are as a country. Particularly in the area of immigration.”

The undocumented population peaked in 2007 at 12.2 million and has declined since then. There are at least 4.4 million people in the U.S. with at least one undocumented parent, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

READ: President Joe Biden Signs Executive Order To Preserve DACA

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