By Jose Cruz, Our Tiempo
We met Jose Quintero recently at an event for Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s new political action committee (New American’s Fund) geared at raising money to support pro-immigrant political candidates. When we found out Jose was one, if not the first person to be approved for Obama’s new Differed Action Program to help DREAMERS come out of the shadows, we had to interview him.
OT: How did you come to the United States?
Jose: The only thing I remember about coming to the United States was watching an episode of The Simpsons before leaving my grandparents’ house in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico for the Arizona border. After arriving at the border my mom and I walked the desert for less than a day. I know that a lot of people last days in the desert but we did not. After crossing the border we stayed in a house in Arizona for about two days before boarding a plane to Chicago.
OT: Did you always know about your legal status?
Jose: I realized I was an undocumented person in the United States when I graduated high school and decided to take a year off school before going to college. I had just turned 18 and wanted to get a job. I filled out plenty of applications and only two called me back for an interview. One was a local grocery store and the other was a currency exchange. The interviews were going great until they asked for my social security number and I answered “I do not have one.” I could tell that from that moment the interview was over, and I was not going to receive any call back.
OT: Why did you get involved with the immigration reform movement?
Jose: In the summer of 2010 I got involved with Centros Sin Fronteras, through Sin Fronteras I began participating in immigration protests and marches. As I got more involved with the movement I joined FuerZa Juventud, Centros Sin Fronteras’ youth group. I learned how to fill out U.S. Citizenship and Immigration documents, including N-400 – citizenship applications – and I-90 – green card renewal applications. On August 15, 2012 – the first day undocumented youth could apply for D.A.C.A. (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) – I participated in a workshop sponsored by Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez and learned how to fill out D.A.C.A. applications. That day I completed my own application and stayed to help other youth complete theirs. Since then I have volunteered at every workshop the Congressman has hosted.
OT: What advice would you give to other DREAMERS?
Jose: The best advice I could give other DREAMers is to go out there and fill out your D.A.C.A. application NOW – there is no need to be scared. If ever in the future anyone tries to take our work permits away and deport us there will be uproar.
Here is what Congressman Gutierrez had to say about Jose-
“For the past two years, Jose Quintero has been volunteering at a Chicago-area church, helping immigrants fill out complicated work authorization forms and citizenship applications. He did that even though he could apply for neither himself.”
This article was first published in Our Tiempo.
Jose Cruz is a Puerto Rican/Irish multi-city/multi-hat guru at OurTiempo.com. An online entrepreneur, Jose is the in house editor and writer. With a background in politics and a career that includes a law degree, the Clinton White House and managing and developing websites geared at the Latino community, his tastes are as diverse as his work. Just at home diving into a Chicago Deep Dish Pizza to munching on a Fish Taco in East LA. Twitter: @JoseCruz2000
[Photos courtesy Our Tiempo]