Attorney Daniel Rodriquez on the DACA program

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Attorney Daniel Rodriguez experienced the challenges of growing up as an undocumented immigrant whose dreams for a better life seemed out of reach. He discusses how the DACA program changed his life.

Immigration…

is a complex and overwhelming endeavor, especially at a young age. As a young child growing up in Monterey, Mexico, Rodriguez led what he remembers as a comfortable life. When his mother decided to leave that life behind and make a fresh start for herself and her three children across the border, they were escaping not from poverty or persecution but from domestic violence. 

His mother and siblings left their abusive home in hopes of making a better life in America. 

The DACA program… 

gave Rodriguez a second chance. The journey to Phoenix proved uneventful for the Rodriguez family, but their new life was challenging. Rodriguez recalls, “When we got to Phoenix, we ended up living in a garage, and my mom was nowhere to be seen. It was me and my two sisters, people around me that I didn’t know, speaking a language that I didn’t know.”

What Rodriguez didn’t realize was that his mother’s nights were spent hard at work. As his family’s circumstances improved, he was able to “live as normally as any other brown kid in West Phoenix could until I got to high school.”

It wasn’t until high school that he learned about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program gave Rodriguez the opportunity to get a job to support his family and go to school. 

It was a school counselor who encouraged his desire to attend college and who told him about the Dream Act, which was created to offer a pathway to permanent protection for certain immigrants who came to the U.S. as children but were vulnerable to deportation. 

Although the Dream Act has yet to be approved by Congress, Rodriguez benefitted from the DACA program, which was created to protect eligible young adults not only from deportation, but to provide them with work authorization for temporary, renewable periods as well.

While still in college, Rodriguez became an advocate for immigrant youth, forming the Arizona Dreamer Coalition, and in 2008, he graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in political science and English literature. 

Now… 

after attending law school, Rodriguez is the first undocumented attorney in Arizona. Because of the DACA program, his dreams for a better life were not too far out of reach.  

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