August 20, 2014
Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Dear Secretary Johnson:
Together, we write to you as a few of our country's 11 million undocumented immigrants, many of us Americans in all but pieces of papers.
Often, we're treated as abstractions, nameless and faceless, subjects of debate rather than individuals with families, hopes, fears, and dreams. Too often, we're pawns in a political game in a never-ending election cycle, with pundits marking whose political party will benefit most from our broader inclusion into society.
Like pilgrims who arrived centuries before, some of us came here by choice, others by necessity, be it social, economic, or personal. Out of desperation and borne out of sacrifice, many of us were sent here by our families. Then and now, we came across oceans, valleys, deserts, and rivers. Then and now, those of us who did not die on that journey want a better life. Over the past decades, we have been working, worshipping in churches, going to school, and contributing to the communities we call home. We love, fight for, and pledge allegiance to an America whose flag does not recognize us.
In an America that dares its people to dream big, we dream of not being separated from our families, regardless of sexual orientation, or age, or our particular skill set.
We dream of being able to drive to work, to church or to a grocery store without having to worry about whether it's the last time we'll see the faces of those we love most. We dream of an even better America in which we all thrive together, and where our laws reflect our long-held values, as eloquently stated by President John F. Kennedy, who proudly spoke of his Irish roots in his landmark book, A Nation of Immigrants: "Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience."
We stand united, in solidarity, with over 11 million undocumented Americans, and ask you to consider the attached requests for deferred action. Congress failed to act on legislative immigration reform. Thus, we request that Secretary Johnson and President Barack Obama stop deportations and grant administrative relief to individuals, such as ourselves, who have strong ties to these United States, which we call our home. We request that you approve our requests for deferred action and ask President Obama to consider administrative relief to all individuals who are integral members of our evolving American community.
Respectfully we sign this letter as individuals who seek to define American,
Maria Guadalupe Arreola
Felipe de Jesus Diosdado
Maria del Rosario Duarte Villanueva
Jose Antonio Vargas
Jong Min You
Erika Aldape, Age 24 (Attorney: Rocio Alcantar)
Arrived in 1997 from Guadalajara, Mexico (17 years in U.S.)
Currently lives in Griffith, Indiana
Erika came to the United States at age 7 with a visitor's visa. She does not qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals due to attending college in Mexico for three years from 2008 to 2011. She is not in any deportation proceedings and is affirmatively filing for deferred action as part of this campaign.
Maria Guadalupe Arreola, Age 55 (Attorney: Jose Peñalosa)
Arrived in 1998 from Durango Mexico (16 years in U.S.)
Currently lives in Mesa, Arizona
Guadalupe is the mother of prominent DREAMer activist, Erika Andiola. She fled to the United States after being physically abused by her husband. She came in search of of a better life for herself and her children. Earlier this year, Guadalupe was stopped and arrested by ICE agents. They put her on a bus to be deported to Mexico. Erika organized a national outcry which stopped Guadalupe's deportation. She was given one year of deferred action but faces deportation orders this year.
Felipe Jesus Diosdado, Age 35 (Attorney: Mony Ruiz Velasco)
Arrived in 1997 from Morelia, Mexico (17 years in U.S.)
Currently lives in Chicago, Illinois
Felipe is a hard working family man and father to two United States citizens. He presented himself to the Illinois Secretary of State to apply for a Temporary Visitors Driver's License (TVDL, which is legal in that state) and was turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement due to an error by the Secretary of State Office. He has been in removal proceedings since May 2014. His union, SEIU Local 1 as well as Secretary of State Jesse White have written to ICE advocating for a stay of deportation and deferred action for Felipe.
Maria del Rosario Duarte Villanueva, 54 (Attorney: Jonathan Eoloff)
Arrived in 2000 from Durango, Mexico (14 years in U.S.)
Currently lives in Albertville, Alabama
Maria del Rosario supports her three grandchildren, one of which needs constant medical support. Their parents were deported five years ago and she has been trying to legally adopt them. Maria originally fled to the United States to escape her abusive husband who followed her around the country and continued to assault her. She is affirmatively filing for deferred action as part of this campaign.
Michaela Graham, 52 (Attorney: Brigit Alvarez)
Arrived in 1986 from Hamburg, Germany (28 years in U.S.)
Currently lives in San Pedro, California
Michaela is the founder of Atlanta Underground Market and prides herself on supporting budding entrepreneurs. She first came on a work visa in January 1982. After going through a divorce, she returned to Germany in 1985, but then returned to the US when her company sent her to live in Houston in 1986. She is affirmatively filing for deferred action as part of this campaign.
Noemi Romero, 23 (Attorney: Shiu-Ming Cheer)
Arrived in 1995 from Villahermosa, Mexico (19 years in U.S., arrived at the age of 4)
Currently lives in Glendale, Arizona
Noemi was arrested during a raid by Sheriff Joe Arpio at her workplace and was charged with identity theft (under Arizona's new laws those falsifying their own documentation for any purpose are charged with identity theft). This prevents her from qualifying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Since Noemi is undocumented, she used her mother's work permit to get a job to help support their family. She was also working to save money for a lawyer to review her DACA application.
Eduardo Samaniego, 22 (Attorney: Charles Kuck)
Arrived in 2009 from Zacatecas, Mexico (5 years in U.S., arrived at the age of 16)
Currently lives in Kennesaw, Georgia
Eduardo Samaniego is the Executive Director of Freedom House Georgia, an organization focused on advocacy for education and youth civic engagement (not affiliated with Freedom House International). He has been awarded a scholarship for this fall to attend Hampshire College and is currently being filmed as part of a documentary project. Eduardo is affirmatively filing for Deferred Action because he doesn't qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Jose Antonio Vargas, Age 33 (Attorney: Mony Ruiz Velasco)
Arrived in 1993 from Antipolo, Philippines (21 years in U.S., arrived at the age of 12)
Currently lives in New York City
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, filmmaker, founder of the nonprofit media and culture campaign Define American and a member of the LGBT community. Jose discovered he was undocumented at the age of 16 and is the only undocumented member of his family. He was apprehended at the airport in McAllen, Texas and issued a "Notice to Appear" in immigration court and is filing for deferred action. He has been in the United States since he was twelve and missed the age cut-off for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by just months.
Yestel Velasquez, 38 (Attorney: Daniela Conde, Julie Mao)
Arrived in 2005 from Honduras (10 years in U.S.)
Currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana
Yestel Velasquez is a reconstruction worker from New Orleans, Louisiana and a member of the Congress of Day Laborers and the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. Yestel was arrested at an auto-body shop while getting his car repaired as part of a pattern of racial profiling based community raids coordinated with local law enforcement and relying on mobile biometrics devices. Yestel filed a civil rights complaint urging an investigation of the unconstitutional raid, and ICE revoked his original stay of removal after he spoke out urging more attention to ongoing raids in New Orleans. He was finally granted a stay of removal for one year and is affirmatively filing for deferred action as part of this campaign.
Aly Wane, Age 37 (Attorney: Mony Ruiz Velasco)
Arrived in 1985 from Dakar, Senegal (25 years in U.S., arrived at the age of 8)
Currently lives in Syracuse, New York
Aly Wane is an established community organizer in Syracuse, New York. He originally came to the US as the son of a diplomat that worked at the United Nations. He eventually traded his diplomat visa for a student visa and completed his studies with a BA in Political Science from Le Monye College in Syracuse. He missed the age cut-off for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and is filing affirmatively for Deferred Action consideration as part of this campaign.
Jong Min You, 34 (Attorneys: Jared Manes, Michael Ross and Andrew Banks)
Arrived in 1981 from Seoul, Korea (33 years in U.S., arrived at the age of 1)
Currently lives in Bensonhurst, (Brooklyn) New York
Jong-Min You came to the United States as a child, under his parents' student visas in 1981. Though he has a university degree, with honors, in sociology, with a concentration in criminal justice, and a minor in psychology, his undocumented status has prevented him from working in his desired fields. He currently manages the family grocery store, as well as, the two apartments that his parents rent out above his family's property. Jong-Min has actively worked to raise awareness on immigration issues and appeared on the cover of Time Magazine as part of a group of undocumented immigrants featured in the cover article. Jong-Min narrowly missed the age cut-off for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and is filing affirmatively for Deferred Action.