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A Tallahassee Dreamer Hopes For A Brighter Future

Lorena Islas
Lorena Islas

Once facing possible deportation, Lorena Islas now looks to pursue a pathway to citizenship.

After years of uncertainty, those whose undocumented parents brought them to the United States as young children, have new hope. One such "Dreamer" lives in Tallahassee.
Lorena Islas said her story is similar to many thousands of others.

"My country of birth is Mexico. I came when I was 6 years old and I don't know anything about my home country. I've lived in the United States for the majority of my life."

Islas reached adulthood in the United States and ultimately applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. Implemented under President Obama, this allows people brought as children to the U.S. by undocumented parents to avoid deportation under certain conditions. What happened next brought her to the offices of Tallahassee immigration attorneys Neil Rambana and Elizabeth Ricci. In full disclosure, they are regular supporters of WFSU.

"I had recently gotten my DACA approved in June of 2018. They did my DACA renewal for me. I spend over a month looking for a job and unfortunately I had no luck. Until the legal assistant here at the office called me and said, 'Hey, we're looking for someone to help us here as a receptionist. Would you like to take the position?' So I did and I've been working for them ever since."

A happy ending for Islas and her young daughter, right? Not quite.

"When the Trump administration was trying to rescind DACA right before the election, my heart dropped because most of my family relatives are not here. They live in California, so if I get deported, who do I leave my daughter to?"

But within days of a new president taking office, Islas said there was once again reason for hope.

"Now with Biden and the new administration and them going into a citizenship path for us as dreamers, it's a burden lifted off our shoulders in the sense that we can plan for our future now."

It's a future which Islas sees as helping others navigate the nation's often maze-like immigration laws and policies.

"My future plans are to continue growing my business with Elizabeth and Neil learning and getting more experience in the immigration field."

A future with perhaps more opportunity for the next generation.

"Now that Biden hopefully as he moves ahead during the first 100 days with the new law, that gives me as a mother peace of mind that my daughter will have a brighter future than I did."

Not to mention the nearly 800,000 other DACA recipients and as many as 3.5 dreamers without DACA approval.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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