The following is a submission from Gloria – a participant in ATLAS: DIY’s Project ACCESS. In 2012, Atlas DIY developed the idea of ACCESS lawyering. The premise for Project ACCESS was the realization that the law had strayed too far from the hands and understanding of the individual. We say that our clients and the immigrant community were aware of laws limiting their activities but knew very little about the laws and regulations put in place for their protection. This created an opportunity for exploitation, and many of our clients had been abused in different areas of our life. Thus Project ACCESS came into being.
When I first heard that Deferred Action had passed, I thought it was going to mainly help undocumented immigrants that are going to college. I didn’t think it was going to help me because I didn’t go to college. I also thought it would just help undocumented immigrants go to school.
A friend who knew a little about the Dream Act gave me an informal website that helped explain Obama’s new policy a little more and sent me emails about upcoming workshops. I received an email shortly after signing up telling me there was going to be a workshop the day of the policy going into effect. At that workshop in the city they explained what the Deferred Action policy qualifications were, and told me I was qualified after a free screening. They then set up an appointment for me with Atlas: DIY.
The Deferred Action didn’t help just help undocumented immigrants who went to college. The policy helps those who were brought here before the age of 16 years old, who have had to be here for a least 5 years without leaving the country, who have been in the United States since June 2007, and who have at least finished with a high school diploma or have a G.E.D.
The policy is for only 2 years and does not lead into or qualify me for any permanent residency. However, it allows me to try to live with a little more normalcy without the fear of being deported for 20 years. It also allows me to pay taxes like a citizen now that I can actually work on the books. It also helps me to start college in the future if I wanted to go. Even though this is not a permanent fix, I hope that this is a step forward in bringing a policy that can help undocumented immigrants become permanent U.S. citizens like myself. Atlas has helped me a lot through this process, they explained everything thoroughly. There was so much paper work that went into the application, but they made sure I had the right paperwork, It would have been very difficult if I had done it by myself.