“God is blessing MCC’s immigration program,” says Rachel Diaz, an immigration attorney who consults for MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) East Coast.
This month’s success story is Dmarcos.* Diaz has been working with Dmarcos since he was 15 – the youngest age he could apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He was brought to the U.S. without official documentation when he was a child.
Now, because of his DACA status, Dmarcos is going to university this fall. A good student all of his life, without DACA he would not have had the chance to attend university.
Diaz says jokingly, “it’s a lot of papercuts,” as she describes MCC’s role in helping Dmarcos apply for DACA. This includes making sure everything stated on the application is supported by documentation and that application information is complete and correct.
DACA gives the applicant a legal status that they can use to register for college or university. It also grants employment authorization so applicants can work and cover any college expenses.
“When we do the work, a status can mean everything. Helping a client understand the process tends to be the most difficult followed closely by getting the needed supporting documentation,” she says.
However, in south Florida, it is more than just paperwork. “The most important thing we have done for him, as well as all who we help, is offer honest, caring and Godly assistance.”
Diaz, who attends Iglesia Rescate Brethren in Christ (BIC) church in Hialeah, Florida, has been working with MCC since 2005 serving those in need of legal representation with immigration matters in the Anabaptist churches.
“I’d be lying if I said I’ve accomplished everything by myself,” says Dmarcos who attends a BIC church in Miami. “MCC has helped through the process of renewing my DACA status. And there’s no doubt in my mind that my faith in God has played a big role in my journey. His guidance has led me on the right path, and my faith in Him has helped open many doors.”
Dmarcos searched and applied for multiple scholarships, complete with essays, recommendation letters, community service requirements and good grades to pay for his entire tuition to Florida International University (FIU). He will be majoring in architecture in their accelerated program.
“My future career goal is to become a successful and renowned architect. Not just stop there, but eventually open up my own firm and expand my company around the world,” says Dmarcos.
“We find that most of the young kids we help understand the value of having this legal status,” states Diaz. “They all take a deep breath of relief when they get it. Living in fear and threat of deportation is not a desired way of life for anyone. Though we do have kids that are furthering their education, he [Dmarcos] is our greatest success to date.”
Dmarcos cites his desire to succeed and help his family as his motivation to be a good student. “I hope to have served as testimony to those in my church and community and to one day give back,” he says.
Diaz lifts up Dmarcos as an example for others. “DACA is a blessing. God has given it to you, so use it. Go to school and turn that blessing outwardly and bless your community, your church and your family.” And Dmarcos is doing just that.
To other students in similar positions, Dmarcos says, “Work hard, stay focused and take advantage of every opportunity. But most importantly, keep your eyes on God and always put Him first.”
MCC’s immigration work in south Florida is making a difference. “We are able to help so many people,” states Diaz. “We always tell them it's not us; it's all God's doing. We just do the work.”
“Without our program, perhaps Dmarcos would not have applied or perhaps he would have paid a lot of money for legal services. I am humbled and grateful to know God would use me to bless so many,” says Diaz.
*Last name not used for security reasons.
In Miami, New York City and other places around the U.S., MCC works with Anabaptist churches to provide direct services, education and advocacy related to immigration. In both locations, counselors meet with clients by appointment only. Please contact our offices to schedule an appointment.
- Andrew Bodden, MCC EC program director
- (305) 249-3477
New York City
- Sara Mateo-Deo, direct services immigration associate for MCC EC
- (347) 608-1925
For more information on MCC’s immigration work, visit mcc.org/immigration.