Immigrants in Kentucky are often wrongly portrayed as having little education and few skills, getting by on poorly paid jobs. The reality is that many immigrants, even those who initially came into the country as children of undocumented parents, are performing at the highest levels in universities, graduate and medical schools.
One of them is Rosa Aramburo, profiled in the Washington Post, who started her last year at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine with high marks from professors. Her advisors had told her she should expect to easily get an opportunity in one of the country’s best residency programs. That was . . . until President Trump announced the end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that provided protected status to Aramburo and nearly 700,000 other undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children.
Aramburo got ten interviews by residency programs after sending 65 applications. As she planned for her future, Congress rejected proposals that would have allowed her to stay and work in the U.S. Her formerly certain and bright future became much less certain and bright.
Some employers and universities who supported DACA recipients over the past six years are trying to maintain DACA. They have lobbied Congress, paid fees for employees and students to renew their permits and helped them try to find other options to remain in the country legally. There are also pending lawsuits challenging the legality of the end of DACA.
DACA recipients work in a wide range of industries and professions. More than 160 of them teach in low-income schools through Teach For America, 39 work at Microsoft, 250 at Apple, and 84 at Starbucks. Employers of DACA recipients see these young immigrants as skilled, over-achieving workers who speak multiple languages. But if they knowingly keep DACA beneficiaries on the payroll after their permits expire, they could be fined or go to jail. DACA beneficiaries could also be deported.
The Stritch School of Medicine has 32 students who are DACA recipients, the most of any U.S. medical school. The first five of them are scheduled to graduate this year. Most of them are from Mexico, but DACA students are from 18 other nations, including Pakistan, India and South Korea.
Some agreed to work in poor and rural areas of the U.S. that have acute physician shortages so they could borrow money without interest to help pay for medical school. They won’t be able to do that without valid work permits or if they’re deported.
Aramburo, who’s 28, said she’s gotten a lot of support from those at the medical school but she fears she may not be able to finish medical school. She was a high school valedictorian who earned college degrees in biology and Spanish. After graduating, she could only find work as a babysitter because of her undocumented status.
Cesar Montelongo, 28, a third-year Stritch medical student, fled with his parents from a violent Mexican border city when he was 10. He’s earning a medical degree and a PhD in microbiology. Alejandra Duran, 27, also from Mexico, is a second-year medical student who graduated with honors from her high school in Georgia. She’d like to return there to help reduce the number of women dying during childbirth.
If you or a loved one lives in Fayette County, Kentucky, or the surrounding area and are a DACA beneficiary who wants to try to find another way to legally stay in the country, you could benefit from legal representation. Carman & Fullerton can help you, whether you speak English, Spanish or another language. Your future and that of your family is at stake, so contact us today.
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]