“Everything came to the surface.”Saturday, May 25, 2019
“EBCLC’s services are very personable and professional, which I think is a very hard balance to achieve. It feels like staff is part of your case. It’s not just a job for them, they really are there for the client and make us feel like we are in this together!”
–Dulce, a former EBCLC client
This time last year, Dulce, a former EBCLC Immigration Program client, had just graduated from UCBerkeley with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Her newly-obtained legal status brought her enough security to pursue a career she was passionate about, and now she works for the City of Davis as an urban planner – an especially impressive achievement in light of the many stresses she endured in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.
At the age of 11, Dulce came to the U.S. from Acapulco, Mexico. Unsure of what was waiting for her on the other side of the border, she and her mother embarked on the journey together. They overstayed their tourist visas, which meant that Dulce lived and grew up in the U.S. with undocumented status.
“I kept quiet about my status,” said Dulce. “I didn’t tell anyone and I didn’t feel like I had the resources.”
Dulce’s perseverance as a teenager took her through community college and into UC Berkeley. She was grateful to find a community of other undocumented students on campus, and began to feel secure in her abilities to succeed at school. On the night of the 2016 presidential election, however, her confidence was deeply shaken.
“ I started freaking out,” recalled Dulce. “I experienced a lot of fear with the new president; everything came to the surface.”
The anti-immigrant rhetoric that prevailed during the campaign increased anxiety among undocumented students who relied on their DACA status to stay enrolled in school. The environment motivated Dulce to seek support from UC Berkeley’s Undocumented Student Program (USP), where she was referred to EBCLC.
USP provides holistic, wraparound services to undocumented students, including mental health care, housing assistance, and academic counseling, while EBCLC provides free legal representation to these students and their relatives. In the last year alone, EBCLC has taken on almost 450 cases like Dulce’s through USP referrals – and the team is now gearing up to provide even more robust representation through this partnership.
Theo Cuison ,
Director of EBCLC’s
Ana Vazquez Pulido ,
& Former Program Coordinator
At EBCLC, Dulce met Theo Cuison, the director of EBCLC’s Immigration Program, and Ana Vazquez Pulido, a former Work-Study student-turned-program coordinator who is now the organization’s Facilities Manager. Dulce worked with the Immigration Program to renew her DACA status to stay in school. In October of her senior year, she married her partner, a U.S. citizen. She returned to EBCLC, where Theo and Ana helped her to apply for a residency through her marriage.
By May of that year, Dulce was prepping for an interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). “The whole process was a little dehumanizing,” Dulce recalled, “because you have to prove that you’re in a relationship, with love, but Theo made me feel 1,000 times more comfortable during the interview. “
Within an hour of the interview with USCIS, Theo texted Dulce a picture of her temporary residency approval. This meant that Dulce would now have authorization to work and the ability to travel outside of the country.
“I was so excited and kept thinking, I am going to see my grandma again! It felt like, I can rest now,” she recalled.
Now, Dulce works as a Building Planning Technician in the Community Development Department for the City of Davis. She helps execute commercial and residential projects, prioritizing what her community wishes to see constructed.
“EBCLC helped me not just with legal stuff but also mentally,” said Dulce. “EBCLC helped retain me on campus. It was because of EBCLC that I was able to move forward and graduate and get through the process of obtaining a green card.”
Dulce is thankful for the work of our Immigration team. Her new legal status allows her to travel, apply to a wide range of great jobs and pursue her dreams. “I found where my interests and passions lie,” said Dulce. “My legal status informed my decision career-wise, and will continually do that.”