Just over one year ago, the U.S. government tried to deport Carlos and Rafael Robles. Thanks to their courage to speak out, a supportive community who stepped forward to help, a team of lawyers who advocated with the government, and the intervention of U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, the Department of Homeland Security agreed to delay the Robles brother’s deportation for at least a year. Carlos and Rafael were granted deferred action, received a work permit, found jobs, and finally were able to earn money to help pay their tuitions at Loyola University Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Then, last month, the deferred action ran out and work permits expired. Summer employment and internship offers loomed, but suddenly the brothers would not be allowed to accept them. President Obama’s announcement that he would grant deferred action to DREAM Act youth could not have come at a better time for Carlos and Rafael.
The Daily Herald, the brothers’ hometown newspaper that has covered their story throughout, followed up with Carlos and Rafael about their reactions to Obama’s policy announcement. Carlos and Rafael are very grateful to President Obama for this relief, but they would love to become U.S. citizens some day, which is impossible until legislation like the DREAM Act passes.
As we celebrate U.S. independence this week, we celebrate the opportunities Carlos and Rafael and thousands of other youth will now have. In the video above, Carlos and Rafael express their thanks to President Obama. As an organization of lawyers and human rights workers, the National Immigrant Justice Center is thankful to Carlos, Rafael, and the thousands of immigrant youth whose courage to fight for justice have made this Independence Day particularly meaningful. We are committed to holding the Obama administration accountable for its promises. We will continue to fight for immigration reform that offers permanent stability to the families, workers, and children who are our neighbors, friends, and colleagues, and who embody the ideals that make us most proud to be American.
Tara Tidwell Cullen is the associate director of communications at Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center.