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Local student talks about life undocumented

La Casa de Amistad, in South Bend, is now a comprehensive Immigration Services Program. La Casa de Amistad received authorization from the Department of Justice to offer legal immigration services to low income immigrants and say it could benefit thousands of undocumented people in this area.

“I don't think a lot of people understand what it is like to not have papers. I was born in Mexico City. I lived there until I turn 10 years old and we came here to Indiana – I've been here ever since,” says 23 year-old Jazmin Alejandra Garcia of South Bend.  

Garcia lived a majority of her life undocumented but as she began to apply to college she started to feel the difference a citizenship makes.

“So it started to hit me. I can only go so far and that was really hard because you've lived here and you've worked so hard and I would get honor roll every year and you help out your community and you can't get into a school,” explain Garcia. 

Garcia was accepted to IUSB in 2010 but because she couldn't apply for financial aid and was unable to enroll.

“I feel like I was in a box and my box kept getting smaller as I grew up just because my opportunities kept getting smaller so that was very difficult,” says Garcia.  

But in 2013 Garcia received help from a program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. 

“When I got my DACA card I was crying,” says Garcia. 

The simple piece of plastic drastically changed Garcia's life. DACA grants a two year safe guard from deportation, a social security number, and the opportunity to legally work.

“ I was able to contact Holy Cross and they were able to offer me a full ride scholarship so now I am a Holy Cross student and yea I am almost done getting my bachelors,” proudly states Garcia. 

Garcia advocates for those who are eligible for any kind of immigration service and says now with La Casa de Amistad offering legal services, the future looks brighter for others.

“We would go out and talk to students and would say you have to keep fighting because if you give up, if I would have gave up the moment I knew I wouldn't be able to afford fell tuition I would never be here,” says Garcia. 

La Casa de Amistad will immediately start helping low income families apply to immigration benefits that are currently in place like DACA, green cards, and citizenship. They have already helped 300 people in Michiana.

In terms of the temporary relief programs like the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, DAPA and the extension of DACA, the staff is still waiting for Congress to make a decision. In the mean time they are optimistically helping people prepare. 

Those who are interested can call, email, or stop by La Casa de Amistad to schedule an appointment with the Immigration Services Program staff.  All staff members speak both English and Spanish.
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