After President Obama announced his executive decision to protect 5 million from deportation, immigration reform organizations across the nation celebrated this historic win, many sending letters of commendation to the president. But those most affected by the executive action – immigrant families – celebrated quietly at home, thankful to be able to stay together.
NBC News featured a story about one such family: the Arriazolas of Edinburgh, Texas. Families like this have been living without documentation, constantly in fear of deportation and hiding in the shadows of the Rio Grande Valley. However, with Obama’s immigration reform action, Estefania Arriazola, 21, will be able to stay with her parents, who qualify for Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals because her youngest sister has American citizenship.
Arriazola’s parents will soon be able to apply for better-paying jobs, obtain drivers licenses and travel to visit other family members without the the fear of being pulled over and subsequently deported.
“There is no greater feeling than knowing your family will be free and that you will no longer have to be scared of being separated from your loved ones,” Arriazola told NBC News.
The long journey to DACA
Arriazola and her parents came to the U.S. in 2001, when she was only 8 years old. They arrived legally through laser visas but continued to live without documentation after the visas expired.
“My mother felt that we, my sisters and I, would have better opportunities and education here in the United States,” Arriazola said, going on to explain their hardships as undocumented immigrants. “We were always in fear of deportation. We would sell clothes at the flea-market, and I would help my mother.”
The struggle has paid off, as Arriazola and her family have found many successes in the U.S. and have played positive roles in their communities. Arriazola is currently a senior at University of Texas-Pan American, earning her degree in music education. She obtained DACA in 2013, and it benefited her education greatly.
“DACA changed my life in a big way,” Arriazola said. “I am able to work. I also had the chance to do the National Student Exchange Program and go study in California for a year.”
As she told NBC News, she knows the immigration reform action will help her parents lead better lives in much the same way.