Entrance into a solid high school in Philadelphia is challenging for anyone. Though Francisco is intelligent and has great character, he was hindered by his status as an undocumented immigrant. When he was just four years old, he came to the United States from Mexico with his parents who found work in a local factory. His first school choice was always Cristo Rey, a high-quality Catholic school catering to low-income students. Francisco worked hard to keep his grades high, helped as an altar server at church, and joined the Aquinas basketball team. However, Francisco still had one substantial barrier to overcome: his lack of legal status. Cristo Rey requires its students to work one day each week with partner organizations. The work provides significant experience and 60% of the cost of school attendance. Unfortunately, Francisco couldn’t get legal work authorization. A ministry partner directed him to CLCP’s South Philadelphia Clinic for help. Our volunteers prepared Francisco’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (“DACA”) application. DACA provides certain undocumented children who were brought to the US when they were very young with temporary authorization to live, go to school, and work in the US.
After submitting it, Francisco’s DACA application was returned to us for revision. Now time was of the essence; admission decisions were being made soon. Right before the deadline, I met with Francisco to revise his application and partners at the Aquinas Center coached him for his high school interview. Francisco received DACA status just in time, and we before long we received great news: Francisco is loving his first year at Cristo Rey!
-Daniel Colbert, CLCP South Philly Clinic Coordinator