Waiting 20 Years: Victor's Story

Victor was a junior in high school when his world changed forever. Until then, he had been a regular American kid – attending Nashville public schools since kindergarten, playing soccer, working hard to stay on the honor roll and planning for college. Victor turned 16 that year and was looking forward to getting a driver’s license.  

One evening, Victor’s parents told him that he could not get a driver’s license and that he might not be able to go to college. They told Victor that he was born in Mexico and that he was undocumented. Victor’s parents explained that they had brought him to the United States when he was 2 years old because there were no jobs and no future in Mexico. In Nashville, Victor’s family could live safely and have a bright future. Victor’s parents had tried to shield him but could no longer protect him from the reality of his immigration situation.

Despite the shock of this news, Victor continued to work hard. He graduated from high school and was awarded a scholarship to a private university. By the time that Victor received a B.A. with honors, President Obama had created the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. Under DACA, Victor was protected from deportation and able to get a work permit, a Social Security number and a Tennessee driver’s license. These benefits were temporary, however, and had to be renewed every 2 years. In 2017, President Trump announced the end of the DACA program.

Victor met with lawyers at Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors (TNJFON) to discuss whether he had some other option to change his immigration status. At that meeting, Victor learned that his sister, who is a 21-year-old U.S. citizen, has the right to sponsor him for a green card. Unfortunately, it is not a good option for Victor; the current system requires Victor to wait well over 20 years to get a green card.

Victor has been able to renew his DACA status for two more years, but DACA is not a permanent solution. For now, Victor must wait, watch and hope for our government to take action to fix our broken immigration system.