SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — It’s been five years since Irving Hernandez graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in aerospace engineering, but he’s still waiting for a chance to work in this industry.
It’s not due to lack of skill or opportunities, but because he lacks citizenship or permanent residency to get a job in this field.
Hernandez is able to stay in the country because he is enrolled in DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012.
It prevents the deportation of young people who were brought to the U.S. by their undocumented parents when they came to this country.
It also allows young people to get work permits. But the program was seen as a temporary solution.
Now Democrats in Congress are supporting, and have approved H.R. 6, also known as the Dreamer and Promise act of 2021, which would clear a path toward citizenship for these young people.
But its future in the Senate is uncertain with Republicans threatening to filibuster.
“This level of uncertainty has really been a deep stress in my life,” said the 26-year-old Hernandez. “We need this passed, the Dreamer Promise Act is not perfect, it has certain limitations, it has certain concessions.”
Hernandez says he is like hundreds of thousands who are also part of the program who feel their lives are in limbo.
Each DACA recipient must register and draw permits every two years. A permanent solution would eliminate this process and provide more clarity in people’s lives, not to mention an opportunity to save some money, according to Hernandez.
“My work visa is up in December, it’s $495 to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office, it adds up not to mention lawyer fees,” said Hernandez. “What I need the most right now, I see the need to say goodbye to loved ones in Mexico who are dying, because I can’t physically be there. In July 2017, I had to do that with my grandfather and it is the most painful experience of my life.”
Hernandez believes others have similar stories and obstacles and simply just want to belong.
“This is home,” he said. “This is where I have my friends, where I have all of my memories, this is the country I want to pay tribute to and this is the feeling of every single DACA recipient, past and current, applying for this benefit.”
Three months ago, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6 but it’s been stalled in the Senate. This week, senators held a “listening session.”
But Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell has stated he and other Republicans want to see a broader approach on immigration before the Senate would take it up.
“I just want bold action, not for myself, but for every single person in this country who considers it home,” said Hernandez.
For the time being, Hernandez will continue working for a law firm in downtown San Diego and plans on going to law school in the future.