DACA Made a Future Nurse’s Dreams Become Reality

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By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR

When Jose Aguiluz was 15, he was involved in a severe car accident in his native Honduras. Desperate for help, his aunt contacted doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The staff were able to perform the required surgery, and it wasn’t long before Jose and his aunt traveled from Honduras to the United States. His immediate family joined soon after so they could be by his side before and after the procedure.

The surgery came at a great cost, however. Jose’s parents had to sell everything they owned to pay for it and to be with him.

That was almost 10 years ago. Yet it was a fateful event for many reasons. During his stay at the prestigious medical facility, Jose discovered his passion for medicine. It also marked the beginning of a new life.

Jose remained in the U.S.—a decision that was beyond his control—and in time his visa expired. Despite the hardships brought on by his undocumented status, Jose proved to be a spectacular student. Although his status barred him from receiving financial aid, Jose managed to find jobs to pay his tuition and fees at Montgomery College. His workday started at 5:00 a.m., followed by classes at night.

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When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established, Jose knew he had an opportunity to finally achieve his potential. He chose to pursue a nursing degree and was dedicated to making this dream come true, no matter what obstacles were in his way.

“Education is the path we have to become someone in our lives,” said Jose.

Jose continued to balance work and school once he started his nursing education. Despite a hectic schedule, he became active in his community too. He worked to pass the Maryland DREAM Act by canvassing neighborhoods and encouraging people to get out the vote. This civic experience made the DACA announcement that much more special for Jose.

On the day President Obama introduced DACA, Jose went to NCLR Affiliate CASA de Maryland to talk with fellow youth organizers and share in the victory they had worked so hard to achieve. He filled out his DACA application, anxious to receive his work permit and finally advance toward his dreams. The best part was being able to take his board examinations. Since January 2014, Jose has been employed at Washington Adventist Hospital as a registered nurse.

Jose has already achieved much, but the 23-year-old is just getting started. He continues to contribute to his community as a member of Casa’s board of directors. He is also continuing his studies and plans to pursue an advanced degree in public health at the school where it all started: Johns Hopkins University.

Without DACA, Jose knows that getting to this point would have been nearly impossible, and he pleads with Congress and the 26 states that have blocked DACA expansion and the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. “Only by removing these roadblocks can we show everyone what we’re capable of,” he says.

Gaby Gomez, NCLR Communications Department intern, contributed to this blog post.

Tell the Senate to Confirm Tom Perez

Perez_photo2The country needs a labor secretary and we think Tom Perez is the best man for the job. That’s why today we’re calling on senators to stop the unwarranted attacks and filibuster threats against the president’s nominee. We’re joining our Affiliate, Casa de Maryland, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) in a march and a press conference today to make sure we’re heard loud and clear.

Tomorrow, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions is scheduled to vote on Perez’ nomination and we need your help in making sure those senators know we support him.

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All in for Citizenship at the April 10 Rally!

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Next Wednesday, leaders in the labor, civil rights, and faith communities will gather at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, to say “now is the time” for real, comprehensive immigration reform along with tens of thousands of supporters in a major rally on April 10, 2013.

Convened by a coalition of Latino leaders, the rally will take place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 10, and will urge Congress and the president to work together to achieve a bill that includes a realistic path for citizenship for undocumented Americans.

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We’re Taking Our Concerns about the Fiscal Cliff Straight to the White House!

If you’ve been following us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or our blog, you know that we’ve been doing lots of work on the so-called “fiscal cliff” that has been bandied about in the media over the past few weeks.

At NCLR, we’re especially proud to bring you a message from one person who had a seat at the table where these talks are happening.  This past Friday, Fernando Garavito joined Vice President Joe Biden and others to talk about the impact that the fiscal cliff will have on Latino families.  Fernando, who works for NCLR Affiliate CASA de Maryland, joined the lunch as a representative of the Latino community, along with others who represented people with disabilities, students, African Americans, and more.

Check out Fernando’s short story below and let us know what falling off the fiscal cliff will mean to your family.  Share your own story here or in the comments below.

Here are a few other stories we have received from our network:

Nancy: Taxes on the extremely wealthy should be returned to the levels they were during President Clinton’s administration. People making $250,000 or less should have their taxes kept low so that we do not fall back into a recession.

Wayne: The wealthy have had it easy for years not only because they don’t have financial problems like we of the middle class, but because they have a huge surplus of money to meet emergencies unlike we of the middle class. Since they have benefited most by the growing debt, it is only fair that they now “pay their dues”!

Linda: We have a 32 yr old daughter who is bi-polar and will never be able to hold a job. Her husband took her children and dropped her on our doorstep. Because of cuts, in the state she gets no legal help, no financial aid, and no medicaid. That means she is not able to get all the medication she needs and she can’t get a lawyer to fight her husband for it. We are struggling ourselves (my husband is a disabled veteran who is still job hunting 4 months after getting a Master’s in Social Work) and all we can do is give her a place to stay and food to eat. In two months we will have to start paying back student loans even though my husband has not found work. Any cuts will just make it harder.