June 16, 2012
'Undocumented' Queens teens no longer fear being deported after President Obama's order
It’s a dream come true.
Two city teens who live in fear of deportation were overjoyed when President Obama yesterday announced an order granting young, “undocumented” immigrants the right to stay in the country.
Erika Bret (a member of Make The Road New York), a 19-year-old freshman at La Guardia Community College from Puebla, Mexico, was smuggled over the border using fake documents four years ago to join her mother in Queens. Her mom had moved here years earlier, leaving Bret with her grandmother.
Bret enrolled at Pan-American International HS, and was able to realize her wish to attend a US college. She wants to be a graphic designer with her own business.
But she’s watched her mom — who works at a clothing store and is paid off the books while her husband packs boxes — struggle to stay under the radar.
“She doesn’t like to go out because she is afraid,” Bret said of her mom’s concerns about being deported.
Meanwhile, Bret has been unable to help out financially for fear of being caught working illegally. Nor has she dared to return to the country where she was born, as she may not be able to return to her family without US residency papers.
She’s seen three younger siblings — Jared, Dayanara and Jeremy, all born here — become American citizens.
“They can get help from the government,” she said, noting that two of them receive speech therapy.
“I want to be the one who helps them, too. Now I can. I’m going to help them a lot.”
Wilian Mejia (a member of Make The Road New York), 18, of Richmond Hill, Queens, arrived in New York from Honduras several years ago. He said the moratorium on deporting younger, undocumented immigrants gives him a new lease on life.
“You live, like in the shadows,” Mejia said. “ You don’t want everybody to know you’re undocumented. Now I don’t feel as scared anymore.”
“I can’t explain to you in words how exciting it is. But it’s really emotional.”
A senior at Flushing HS, Mejia plans to go to Queensborough Community College. He wants to study performing arts and become a Latin dancer.
“I don’t feel like going back to my old country,” he said. “I made New York my home. Honduras now is very dangerous. I don’t want to go back.”
The immigration advocacy-rights group Make the Road by Walking said the Obama order was a a godsend that will lift up the lives of millions of young people.
“Young people will be able to walk down the streets of Queens and Brooklyn . . . and be able to say, ‘this is my home and I don’t have to live in fear,’ ” said co-director Ana Maria Archila.
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