Two Pioneers Roll Up Sleeves to Help Others
Sergio Garcia and Luis Perez do not qualify for Deferred Action but they are prepared for August 15
Los Angeles – The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and its statewide youth branch, the California Dream Network (CDN), announced on Friday that two leading immigrant rights advocates with a law degree, Sergio Garcia and Luis Perez, will lead CHIRLA’s “Seize the Dream” Deferred Action program. Deferred Action is a temporary immigration relief program available to young immigrants and starts August 15.
Sergio C. Garcia is 35 years old and known to many as the intense, confident law student who arrived as a toddler without papers from Michoacan, Mexico. Today he is facing one the biggest challenges of his life: the California Supreme Court will soon have to decide if he’s eligible to practice law, even though he has been sworn in and is fully supported by the State Bar and California’s Attorney General Kamala D. Harris to do so.
Garcia is one of five CHIRLA Dream Fellows who will focus in outreach and application reviews in Northern California, especially Butte, Glenn, Sutter, Tehama, Sacramento, and Yuba Counties. He resides in Chico.
“Life has been tough for me, always afraid, never having enough money to pay for the things I wanted, especially pay for school, but I have rolled with the punches,” says Mr. Garcia. “Now that I am an active dreamer, older than many of those who benefit from Deferred Action, I want to help make the road easier for them. I know that if we help this generation of immigrant youth, they will pay it forward, they will help our economy and help us get back on the road,” adds Mr. Garcia.
Luis Perez is the second oldest sibling in a family of seven. At 31, he is the first undocumented student to be admitted at the UCLA School of Law and the first one to graduate. As the Deferred Action Program Manager, Perez will lead CHIRLA’s efforts to help hundreds of young immigrants and their families navigate through the process of applying for a temporary immigration relief program many are nervous about.
“All young people should have a meaningful life experience. A lot of us who are undocumented immigrants are limited to the type of quality experiences we can have because of our [immigration] status. Often we don’t take the experience we want or the one we deserve,” states Mr. Perez
As to why this benefit became available, Perez replies, “this directive is rewarding students for their efforts, for playing by the rules, and for having the drive to be educated and contribute to the economy.
Neither Garcia nor Perez qualifies to receive temporary immigration relief but they are undeterred. To both, the most important part of their work is to inspire others to not give up and to pursue opportunities wisely and assertively. They both advise potential applicants to worry about the quality of their application not how quickly they submit the forms. For more information about the CHIRLA program, call (213) 353-1333.