Tony walked into the MICA Project offices out of breath and unannounced during the summer of 2013. He had been ordered deported by the immigration judge, and was desperate to find help. The MICA Project lawyers started the long process of walking with Tony to work through this terrifying time.
Tony came to the U.S. when he was three years old, crossing the desert with his mother. He remembers running at nighttime and getting separated from the group. He and his mother came to a stream and his mom held his hand and counted to 3… After an arduous journey, they made to the U.S. to reunite with Tony’s father. His parents were seeking a better, safer life for themselves and their children.
Tony grew up like any other American kid. He learned English, and eventually his parents told him about how he needed to work extra hard because he wasn’t American and couldn’t count on the special privileges his classmates had. Upon reaching high school, he became discouraged he felt he’d never be able to go to college or do anything more than work in a kitchen or construction.
Because of this feeling that he was headed to a dead end, Tony started hanging out with the wrong crowd and making bad decisions. He felt he’d never make it anywhere because of his legal status. He couldn’t dream of being a doctor or a lawyer and was even discouraged from joining the military because he was undocumented. He left school to work full time in an effort to help his parents. He is one of five siblings and wanted to do his part. He realized life wasn’t about being in the streets all day. He wanted to buy a house, start a family.
He started GED classes, and after balancing classes with work and life was ready to take the GED exam. Tony applied to take the test, but they refused his application and sent it back to him with “social security number” highlighted as missing information. In Missouri, you have to have a valid social security number in order to sit for the GED exam. Meanwhile, Tony was placed in deportation proceedings by immigration for being present in the U.S. without proper documentation. When he was unable to show the judge that he was eligible for the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the judge had no other choice than to order his removal.
That hot summer afternoon in 2013, he came to the MICA Project for help to reopen his case in immigration court. Hurdle after hurdle, Tony was able to apply for DACA and receive his work permit. Tony continues to work hard. He wants simple things like an apartment in his own name, to get married, to drive with a valid driver’s license. Tony currently has a one and a half year old daughter. He strives to be involved in his community and to reach kids in his situation to tell them there is hope.
Tony’s story echoes so many of the youth the MICA Project works with to apply for DACA status: young people who were brought to this country by their parents, and who have worked hard for a better future. Last year the MICA Project assisted around 40 of these youth to apply for this program.
Help ensure other brave clients like Tony are
able to stay in the place they call home.
Donate today to
Ensure the Brave Have a Home!