Gloria Oduyoye, a DREAMer from Nigeria, may well become the first undocumented immigrant to graduate from law school in Virginia. She may, however, have to shelve her dreams of practicing law as President Trump threatens to end the very program that protects her and countless other undocumented immigrants from being forcibly removed from the country.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an Obama-era immigration policy that designated undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors as low-priority targets for deportation. Under DACA, these DREAMers (named after an earlier but now defunct immigration program with the same goals) would be given the special privilege of applying for temporary and renewable work permits every two years.
At present, more than 800,000 young adults in the country are protected from deportation by their DACA status.
This may all come to an end as President Trump announced the repeal of the immigration program in September this year. The White House, however, placed a 6-month delay for the repeal to take effect, giving Congress time to come up with a replacement program—this time backed by actual legislation.
Oduyoye, however, keeps the grit that got her through law school and is fighting back, joining two northern Virginia men to file a lawsuit against the government.
Oduyoye’s success story is not one without hurdles. Her father fell ill upon her family’s arrival in the U.S. This meant that he would fail to meet the residency required by his student visa, forcing the entire family out of status – a predicament that lawyers quickly took advantage of, draining the family dry.
Oduyeoye and a hundred other DACA beneficiaries traveled to Capitol Hill to speak before the members of Congress, urging them to pass bipartisan legislation to protect the thousands of DACA beneficiaries who risk being deported from the country.
The success of the attorney-to-be is, however, is not an isolated case. Roberto Gonzales, a professor of education at Harvard University and author of the book, “Lives In Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America,” kept a close watch on DREAMers like Oduyoye and their progress in American society.
Upon the implementation of the DACA, Gonzales and his research team surveyed 2,700 of the program’s enrollees. Their findings show that:
- 59 percent of them had finally obtained employment thanks to the program
- Several moved on to post-graduate studies
- Hundreds more proceeded to contribute to their communities by entering the fields of education, medicine, technology, and – as in Oduyoye’s case – law
If you are one of the thousands of Americans who could be affected by the Trump DACA repeal, or have family members who face deportation, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm to discuss your options. Schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle for a full review and discussion.