Maria and Corazon photo

Maria and Corazon

Corazon is a 40-year-old artist and an undocumented immigrant. She and her husband first came to the U.S. from Mexico when they were 19, with the expectation of applying for visas through her husband’s family who are U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. She and her husband have two daughters: Maria, who is undocumented and a DACA recipient, and Diana, who is a U.S. citizen.

Because Diana is a U.S. citizen, Corazon and her husband would be eligible for DAPA.

Corazon and her husband brought Maria over to the U.S. when she was nine months old. As the young couple was starting a family, they didn’t feel comfortable bringing their daughter back to their home country. “We started seeing violence in Mexico, and the cartels taking over everything and everyone. We decided to stay because it was going to be safer for our kids to stay in this country,” shares Corazon.

Even though she and her husband used immigration lawyers to file their visa paperwork, they weren’t told that the wait time to become legalized would be 22 to 25 years, and they’re still waiting. It was then that Corazon and her husband made the tough decision to stay in the U.S. to raise their daughter Maria and Diana.

“We’re unable to truly give what we want to give [to this country].”

Corazon’s husband worked as a salesman in Houston selling signs. Eventually, however, he realized that his boss was stealing his wages. As a result, Corazon and her husband created their own small sign business.

“[My parents] were innovative,” recalls Maria. “I remember in middle school, sitting down with them and writing down a whole catalogue.” She would help her parents translate each detailed explanation in English and Spanish for the company website.

Maria and Corazon

Regardless of the parents’ entrepreneurial spirit, their fear of deportation has made building the business challenging. Because of their immigration status, they aren’t able to hire employees to support the company’s growth.

“We’re unable to truly give what we want to give [to this country],” explains Maria.

Maria was consistently a strong student, and received straight A’s all through high school. Upon graduation, she was accepted into the U.S. Presidential Scholars program. But due to her immigration status, Maria was unable to put the scholarship to use. “We were all devastated by it,” remembers Corazon. “She fell into a bad depression; we were really worried about this.”

“After I graduated high school, I had very strong internal conflict in realizing and thinking about whether I wanted to work on the short term goal, which was to make my family life happier and to pretty much support us, or to continue on and strive for my education and work towards the long term goal of succeeding at least in the American way of getting a college degree and having a job so that I can later support them,” explains Maria.

Maria ultimately pursued her dream of attending college as a DACA recipient, and is majoring in political science.

DAPA would mean that Corazon and her husband can work legally in the U.S. and build their small business without fear. It would also enable Maria and her sister to pursue their education without the pressure to support their family financially. “I realize the fact that the only thing truly barring us from success was my parents inability to have a job and even earn minimum wage. If they could work anywhere that pays even $7.25 an hour, even though that’s not a living wage, our life would be completely different. We would not have had to struggle buying food or we could have made simple average decisions,” says Maria.

Additionally, DAPA would enable Maria, Corazon, and their family to return to Mexico City and reconnect with extended family.

“I’m trapped in a country where I have no rights, I’m trapped in a country that I love, and I’m trapped in between my family and the law that is creating a barrier for us to succeed.”

Corazon has not been able to see her mother in Mexico City for 17 years. Her mother has been kidnapped twice in various raids in Mexico, and Corazon wants to support and visit her. “I haven’t been able to go because I’m trapped in this country trying to [live quietly] with my kids and keep them in a safer place,” she says.

Says Corazon, “I’m trapped in a country where I have no rights, I’m trapped in a country that I love, and I’m trapped in between my family and the law that is creating a barrier for us to succeed.”