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Local Organizations Help Young Immigrants Seeking The American Dream

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The Obama administration recently referred to it as a ‘humanitarian crisis.’ We’re talking about children crossing the Mexican border without their parents. Most are looking for a better life, while trying to escape a world of violence.

Makeshift holding centers are quickly filling up in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and California. Now, a North Texas group is answering the call for help from overwhelmed states.

Brought to the U.S. as a toddler, Jessica Barron learned early that her life would be severely limited by her immigration status. “It broke my dreams, just to know that I would never be able to go to college.”

But for Barron, and others like her, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is like pouring rain on the seeds of withered dreams. The now 25-year-old said, “I went from wanting to be a fashion designer, to wanting to be a doctor… to today, now, wanting to be an attorney.”

The program grants protection and limited rights to immigrants brought to America as children, prior to June 15, 2012.

According to experts, just a fraction of those eligible are taking advantage of the DACA program. Speaking as a League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) representative Christopher Enriquez said many eligible candidates live in fear of the government. “They don’t trust it [DACA program] yet. They feel like they’re going to be deported.”

To help, the Mexican consulate and community advocates are now working to increase awareness and participation. “We’re reaching out to them and letting them know that this is gonna help them and it’s their best option for right now,” Enriquez said.

There are several workshops, slated for this Saturday, to help applications compile and complete the required paperwork.

Ivan Flores lined up with paperwork in hand at the Mexican Consulate in Dallas Tuesday — trusting the law to fuel his dreams. “I don’t want to be nobody’s worker,” he said. “I want to be my own boss.”

Flores dropped out of school to go to work; but, later completed his GED and now says he wants to go to college and eventually open his own mechanic and body shop.

The 23-year-old went onto explain that the DACA program will do more than just encourage his dreams—it will allow him to live without fear of being deported. “I can’t drive, because I can’t get a driver’s license. I’ve been stopped before and gotten a ticket and I’m tired of that.”

Members of the North Texas Dream Team are also working to help “advance the dreams and goals of students” and are holding DACA Forums on June 14.

Jessica Barron’s DACA application was approved last year. Now, while also attending college classes, she works as a case manager for Catholic Charities and absolutely revels in her status change from ‘undocumented’ to ‘dreamer.’

She said, “Sometimes I sit here in my office and I think about, ‘Wow! How much has my life changed?’”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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