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Finding Hope in “DACA” – Interview with Jazmin

Creating belonging happens in so many ways in Baltimore and cities across the United States where World Relief has Immigration Services, like this story from our sister office in Sacramento, CA.  

Jazmin grew up believing she wouldn’t have the opportunity to graduate from college and start a full-time career. When she was a junior in high school, she met with the Immigration Legal Services team at World Relief who helped her apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and walked alongside her through every part of the process.  

We sat down with Jazmin and asked her a few questions about her experiences: 

Tell us about yourself and about your family.  

I moved to California when I was 5 years old – my Dad came back to Mexico and picked me up from my grandparents’ house. Adjusting to the rhythm of school and learning a new language was incredibly difficult, and I grew up with a lot of stress because I didn’t think I would have the opportunity to go to college – it was a battle figuring out how I would be able to support my family.  

But when I was a junior in high school, World Relief was able to help me out. They filled out my DACA paper work and guided me through the entire process. Thanks to them, I attended and graduated Sacramento State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Construction Management and Engineering. My Dad was a construction worker, so I jumped into it with the best faith – I’ve now worked for company that I’m currently at for the past 5 years and have been able to help my family quite a bit.  

This was all because of DACA; without that policy, I wouldn’t be able to have these same opportunities I do now.  

How did you meet the World Relief team?  

My point of resource was the Mexican Console – they hosted workshops and World Relief was one of the organizations that sponsored me. They gave me resources, sent my application, and paid fees – they walked alongside me through the entire DACA process. All I needed to do bring was myself, and they processed everything else and kept everything up to date. It would have been incredibly hard for me to do it by myself; I felt very secure with World Relief handling everything. 

How has DACA helped you? And how has World Relief’s legal team helped you in securing your future? 

Thanks to DACA I was able to go to college, I was able to work legally and start compiling 401K and savings and building credit, and ultimately, I was able to help my family. Right now, I am saving to buy a family home – immigrants buying property with a low-income background is impossible.  

With World Relief helping with the DACA process, it makes you feel like your case is always taken care of; I really appreciate them.  

What has been your overall experience as an immigrant in California?  

I have a mixture of feelings. I think on the good side: it’s humbling. Just to know that you come from a different country and you’re trying to make it here. Because of DACA it’s not as limiting, without it it’s scary. I went through anxiety growing up without DACA because I couldn’t follow the traditional steps of going to college and would have to work illegally. It’s scary, it still is. It’s still all up in the air politically, but I’m trying to take care of the advantage.  

What changed in your day-to-day life after you were approved for DACA? 

My routine – just going to school and finding a good job changed. My lifestyle and quality of life changed. I don’t feel like I was negatively impacted at all – without DACA, college would’ve cost three times as much – I graduated without debt and held a good job even before graduation. I never saw a dentist until started working full time – now I have so much better quality of life and insurance.  

What would you like people to know about the DACA process?  

For the people applying for DACA, I’ve known a lot of people have had complications. I know DACA will eventually will expire – a lot of times you never know when the application is going to bounce back. Having resources like World Relief ready and able to help is necessary – I always needed to be sure that this application is in good hands. It can be sensitive paperwork. DACA is important to have valuable resources.  

For people who don’t know what DACA is, it’s not our fault that we’re in this situation (illegal), it’s needed for us to continue to live. And I know that DACA wasn’t given to everyone, which is unfortunate, but it’s special and appreciated. It’s a gift to a small portion of immigrants.  

I hope that it shows people the benefits of giving immigrants legal status and I wish it was for everyone; I’m very grateful that I fall into the small group of immigrants given a chance. It’s proof that immigrants can give back to this country.  

I consider it a success story for my parents; they brought their daughter not born here and gave her success being here. It truly is a success.  

World Relief Baltimore Immigrant Services office helps so many individuals like Jazmin fulfill their dreams and provide for their families. Consider becoming a monthly donor and help us continue creating belonging in Baltimore City and Countyclick here for more information.  

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