It was early Friday morning, and UCLA graduate Maria Gomez had only heard some of the news — something about President Obama granting immunity to young illegal immigrants like herself — when the congratulatory text messages began flying in.
She would be able to apply for a work permit, and a driver’s license, according to texts from her friends. Although Obama is paving the way for work permits, obtaining driver’s licenses are a matter of state law and unaffected by his announcement.
For Gomez, these little privileges mean so much.
Gomez, 26, recently graduated from UCLA with a master’s degree in architecture, but has had trouble finding work because she is not in the U.S. legally.
Like so many young illegal immigrants, despite doing everything right, Gomez has lived in two worlds: one full of opportunity and one filled with closed doors. Fear of deportation has meant Gomez and her family have had to remain on edge all the time. A chill would hit her spine when she saw a police officer and she would have to come up with excuses when friends would invite her to movies that require ID.
“This means I can be normal,” Gomez said Friday after hearing the news. “I can go through things without having to worry.”
Gomez fell into periods of speechlessness Monday trying to process the meaning of an executive order that has yet to be fully explained. Like many in the community of undocumented students, Gomez rejoiced at the news, calling it “an amazing first step.”