When he was 11 years old, Hugo Nicolas was brought into America illegally by his parents. Now 20 years old, he is no longer forced to live undocumented. Nicolas applied, and was accepted for the deferred action program that postpones his deportation for two years and allows him to receive a work permit in the United States.
Nicolas began running into issues when he tried to volunteer in high school and was unable to admit a Social Security number to apply for the Keizer Police Department’s Law Enforcement Cadet Program. Less than a week after the news of Nicolas being undocumented, the Keizer City Council prohibited non-U.S. citizens from being a part of the program.
“I felt kind of disappointed. I always thought it’s about letting the youth be what they want to be and to get a taste of what they should do in the community,” Nicolas told the publication. “When that happened, I just felt like it sent a bad message to the community, specifically the Latino community in Keizer and right now, it’s a growing community.”
However, Nicolas didn’t let this bad news cast a shadow over the good. Like many other individuals in his shoes, he now has the opportunity grow as a leader and continue volunteering elsewhere. With the DREAM Act on the horizon in 2013, experts hope people like Nicholas can gain legal citizenship and follow their desired career paths.
NPR reported on a case in California where an undocumented student graduated from law school and passed the bar exam, but since he does not have legal citizenship, he is unaware if he’ll become a lawyer. This case, along with many other similar situations, are the driving force for immigration reform by both parties.