Ten-year-old Leah lives in Miami, Florida, with her family. Leah enjoys art and music classes at school, and her passions are painting and dancing. Her two favorite foods are pizza and spaghetti. When she grows up, Leah said she wants to be a teacher so that she can teach other children how to read, especially about immigrants families and their rights.
Sadly, Leah's mom recently received a deportation order. Her dad is also undocumented. Leah is a U.S. citizen and her older sister was granted temporary legal status under a 2012 deferred action program. Because her family belongs together, many of Leah's hopes and dreams rest on the Supreme Court decision that would allow the President’s new 2014 deferred action programs to move forward so that her family can stop living in fear.
Wise beyond her years, Leah would like to give the world -- specifically other families who share a similar story -- a message: “Don't worry about getting deported because there’s people fighting for you… and remember to always love your family no matter what happens.”
Jose Michael, Age 8
Jose, who goes by “Michael," is named after his father. Michael is 8-years-old and was born and raised in Worthington, Minnesota. He and his three older sisters are all U.S.-born citizens, while both of his parents are undocumented.
Michael’s favorite part of the school day is science class, and he also enjoys running and playing soccer during his free time. There is no doubt that he is a huge fan of tamales. For his first communion last year, he received a Bible and has since read it every night, all on his own.
Michael dreams of growing up to be a police officer so he can help protect his family and community. He also dreams of a day when he can live with the comfort that both his parents will always be safe from deportation and that they can travel as a family to visit their relatives in Guatemala. Implementation of President Obama’s 2014 executive action programs would help make that dream a reality.
Jasmine, age 10
Jasmine is a ten-year-old residing in Miami, Florida with her mom and dad. She loves calculating math problems and enjoys playing music on her violin. She spends a lot of time with her best friend Leah. Her favorite food is a popular Mexican breakfast dish called chorizo con huevos, or pork sausage with eggs. Jasmine envisions herself being a doctor and curing diseases like cancer when she’s older. If she could wish for one thing, it would be to have a permanent home to live in with her parents.
Jasmine's mom is a vocal community advocate who is vocal about her situation and dedicated to defending immigrant rights. Jasmine also frequently stands by her parents’ side, fighting for the rights of families to stay together. At the moment, Jasmine is ecstatic because her mom has recently been granted temporary relief from deportation and a work permit under the 2012 DACA program, yet still worries every day about her undocumented dad.
Israel, Age 9
Israel is a third grader who lives with his parents, little sister and brother outside of Boston. His favorite subject in school is science. He has also been learning all about American history, including Thomas Paine and the French-Indian War. He adores his school, especially because on Fridays they have pizza and sometimes beef tacos on Taco Tuesday.
When Israel isn’t in school, he loves to play basketball and foursquare (whipping is his specialty move), and attend church with his family. He also enjoys art and drawing minions.
Like many American children, Israel’s wish for his family is to go to Disney World together, but that dream is threatened. Israel and his siblings are U.S. citizens, but his parents are undocumented.
In 2012, the family’s world was torn apart when Israel’s dad, the family’s sole income earner, was detained by immigration authorities for three months. In 2014, when the President announced executive immigration actions, including a program his parents would be eligible for, Israel thought he wouldn’t have to live in fear anymore. But because these programs were put on hold, the family’s peace of mind was also put on hold.
Zury, Age 5
Zury wakes up with a smile on her face – batteries fully charged, and ready to face any challenges the day may bring. Whether Zury’s obstacles are monkey bars or court rooms, Zury has matured much faster than other kids her age. “She knows what’s right and wrong, and she knows what justice is,” says her mom. “She talks about it at school, with her friends. When I tell her we’re going to meet with other advocates and families, she says, ‘Let’s go do justice.’”
Zury is a U.S. citizen and the youngest of four siblings. On any given day, she’s bouncing around the playground, joyfully riding down the slide or pretending to be a plane – it’s hard to imagine that she too, thinks that her parents may have to leave her someday, but she often does. Her dream is for her mom not to have to worry anymore. When asked about politicians and what they’re doing to help families stay united, Zury humbly asks, “How do they not know that all kids need parents?”
Roberto, Age 9
The first artist to become President? Roberto's passion is to express his creativity. He loves to paint, draw, and sculpt art from papier-mâché - or just about any materials Roberto can get his hands on. "He's incredibly intelligent," says his mother, who is undocumented and was recently granted another temporary stay. "And he's very protective of me and of our family."
Growing up in Denver, Roberto, or "Gallo," has fought alongside his mom for years, not just for the rights of his family, but hundreds of others in Colorado and around the country facing family separation. Gallo's mother was pulled over in 2009 for a minor traffic infraction, an event that would spark years of uncertainty and turmoil for Gallo's family. He hopes his mother will be granted deportation relief under the President's new deferred action programs.
During a recent demonstration outside of the Supreme Court, immigration reform advocates joked that Gallo was so passionate about fighting for other families that he should become a lawyer. Gallo replied, "I'm not going to be an attorney, I'm going to be the President."
Zion, Age 8
Zion is a third grader who lives outside of Boston with her two brothers. Her favorite subject in school is gym, particularly floor hockey and soccer. She also loves art, especially when she can draw flowers.
She loves math and singing at church on Sunday. She prizes her floral children’s Bible that her dad gave her as a gift.
Zion’s dad is a nurse and the family’s sole income earner, so their family’s world was turned upside down when he was detained by immigration authorities for three months in 2012. While Zion and her siblings are U.S. citizens, their parents are undocumented. After the introduction of the new immigration executive actions in 2014, Zion and her family were grateful that they would soon no longer have to live in fear and even traveled to Washington, D.C., to thank President Obama for introducing the programs. But these programs were put on hold due to a legal challenge. Now the future of Zion’s family remains uncertain.
Luna, Age 12
Luna is tougher than a lot of kids her age. Since she can remember, Luna has stood alongside her mother as an advocate for common-sense immigration reform. Luna’s mother has had to plea her case before Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) nearly her whole life, and has come very close to being deported several times. Alongside her brother, “Gallo,” and younger sister, Zury, Luna has often had to be the comforting voice to her family. All three children are U.S. citizens.
“People tell her that she’s really strong,” Luna says of her mother. “She’s always trying to help other people. I wish she wasn’t in the situation she’s in, and that I could know that my Mom and my Dad could stay with us. It makes me scared they could come at any moment and take my Mom and Dad.”
With an interest in science and photography, Luna’s dream is to travel the world and help people connect to nature through her camera lens.
“I want to take pictures of mountains, pictures of animals in the wild, and even places like Antarctica.”
Miranda, Age 6
Miranda calls Minneapolis home. Her parents, both undocumented immigrants, are active members of the community and have taught her to be a voice for herself and others. Both her parents qualify for the deferred action programs introduced by the President in 2014, which would provide them relief from deportation and a work permit.
Miranda’s mother, Emilia, is a vocal immigrant rights advocate and Executive Director of NAVIGATE, a Minneapolis nonprofit created by immigrant students designed to close the opportunity gaps for young adults and their families through education and immigration justice.
A hopeful six-year-old with a constant smile, Miranda’s favorite hobbies are knitting, going to school, and playing outside. She’s especially happy that she will soon have a new brother to play with. Miranda is hopeful that neither she, nor her brother, will ever have to face the obstacles of life without their parents.
Charlie, Age 13
Charlie’s life hasn’t been easy, and his family remains separated. Born in the U.S., Charlie is the youngest of five kids. Like other kids his age, Charlie enjoys soccer, going to the park, watching movies, and dreams of traveling to California.
But Charlie lives with a much harder burden to bear than most 13-year-olds. Charlie’s Dad was deported more than two years ago. When he was held in detention by immigration authorities, Charlie and his family prayed, held vigils, wrote letters and petitions asking for compassion for his family. His father was deported anyway.
“I wish we could all be together,” says Charlie. “It’s been more than two years and I miss my dad. I miss playing soccer with him, I miss going to church with him.”
“What if immigration broke up your family? Would you like it? Now just close your eyes and imagine your family destroyed … no child and family should suffer like we did.”
Mayra is a proud Minnesotan from the southwest town of Worthington. Like other 8-year-olds, she loves playing with her siblings, swimming, and going to the park. She's also a huge fan of potatoes and her mom's homemade noodle soup. In school, she enjoys art and just this past year she celebrated her First Communion.
Mayra has many dreams, like one day becoming a pop star and a gymnast. But right now her biggest dream is for her family to all be able to live in the same place and stay together. While she and two of her siblings are U.S.-born citizens, both of her parents are undocumented and she has a brother in Guatemala. Her brother and extended family are unable to visit the U.S., and her parents are unable to travel back and forth. Mayra says that it makes her sad that her family doesn’t get to live together like other families, and she hopes that one day this will change.