Undocumented youth get big break

Published 8:18 am Wednesday, June 20, 2012

As an 18-month-old baby, Mr. Rodriguez’s parents asked their friends to take him to San Diego. It was not a vacation.

Severely dehydrated, the baby was carried through surf and sand — although he does not remember a thing.

Rodriguez’s feels that that day he became an American, although, besides report cards and diplomas, he does not have a single document to prove it.

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On Friday, June 15, President Obama announced a new policy that would give documentation to an estimated 800,000 young people, like Rodriguez, who came to the US before age 16, are currently under 30, have lived here for the past five years, have good academic standing and no criminal record.

“I didn’t come. They brought me,” Rodriguez told the News during an interview Tuesday.

Rodriguez, 20, moved with his family to Port Arthur about a year after crossing the border and attended Port Arthur ISD from pre-kindergarten through the twelfth grade.

He graduated from Memorial High School in the top ten percent of his class and was the first Hispanic at his school to be crowned Homecoming King.

But throughout his 18 years in the community, his immigration status has narrowed his opportunities and forced him into the shadows.

When he broke his arm in the seventh grade, it took him two weeks to find a doctor who would treat him.

Doctors who treat undocumented immigrants ask for cash up front, said Ms. Chicas, 23, who attends the same college as Rodriguez and affords the same opportunity for obtaining documentation.

Both Chicas and Rodriguez asked that only their last names be used in this article for fear of retribution from their community.

“People take for granted going to the doctor getting check ups, IDs, simple stuff,” said Rodriguez. “They don’t take advantage of these things but these things are worth so much to us.”

Although the new Federal policy does not grant a change to permanent legal status for undocumented immigrants, those who qualify will be allowed to obtain a driver’s license, a worker’s permit and many other documents for the first time.

For more on this story and other local news, see the Wednesday e-edition or print edition.

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