DACA Helps Undocumented Immigrants Sign Up for Work Permits, Driver's Licenses

One Racine man says he feels like he's getting the golden ticket to his future thanks to a program that protects undocumented immigrants under age 31 from deportation, allowing them to work and obtain a driver's license.

For years, Paul’s friends didn’t know he was an undocumented immigrant.

His family moved to Racine when he was 7 years old. He graduated with honors from . He drives a car and has a job. He’ll start taking classes at Gateway Technical College as a freshman this fall, then transfer to a four-year college and eventually continue his college education until he becomes a psychologist.

People who know his story call him a Dream Act Dreamer or just Dreamer, which means his immigrant parents brought him into the United States illegally when he was a child.

Paul is one of 300 people who came to the Racine Labor Center on Tuesday to learn more about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and fill out an application. One of his brothers, him and two of his cousins qualify for DACA, which provides protection from deportation, a work permit and the opportunity to get a driver’s license. But other family members don’t qualify because the program only allows people under the age of 31 to apply.

"You grow up in a society and act the same as everyone else, then you get to the point where that just stops and you think — rejection," Paul said. "But now that is changing."

Being an undocumented and illegal immigrant without a Social Security number, a work permit or a driver’s license has been a challenge. He can't qualify for scholarships or grants, can’t legally drive, can’t legally get a job to pay for school and even if he could pay for school, he still couldn’t legally get a job after graduation — until now, thanks to DACA.

Kate Werning is a Youth Organizer for Voces de la Frontera — an immigrant and worker rights center in southeastern Wisconsin — as well as its student-lead group, Youth Empowered in the Struggle, which focuses on immigration reform. She said the DACA program is a temporary fix that can be rescinded at any time.

"The program protects students from deportation actions, but it’s not a road to citizenship," said Werning. "Still, it was a process we celebrated because we had been asking Obama to have this for over a year-and-a-half now."

Paul believes it’s a good first step because the program allows him to get a work permit and a driver’s license. Being a member of YES, Paul has been a part of protests in Washington DC and in Racine. He's fought to have the Dream Act, which would have promised a path to citizenship.

"But this is one of the biggest things we could have gotten, other than the Dream Act, which we fought really hard for," Paul said.

For Paul, the DACA program is as close to citizenship as you can get because it unlocks his future, one that he could have only obtained illegally by using someone else's Social Security number. Ninety-nine percent of the Dreamers Paul knows currently are using or have used someone else's Social Security number to work, including him, he said.

"If I ever get caught with that, that’s a problem," Paul said. "You can’t get a permanent job with benefits if you don’t have a Social Security number, and then you have to work through temp agencies."

Initially, Paul worked at a local factory through a temporary agency and, when they wanted to hire him on a permanent basis, they couldn't because his Social Security number didn't match his name — and they had to let him go. He then worked with another temporary agency at another local factory and they, too, wanted to hire him full-time, but he didn't go to the job interview because they also used E-Verify, a Social Security number verification system.

"I lost all of that and it was kind of a setback, but that’s why I’m involved with this group," Paul said ,referring to YES. "That’s why this is a really big accomplishment for us."

Having been rejected for jobs, Paul said he’s often felt unwanted by society. He didn’t ask to be brought to the United States, he said. Still, he thinks of himself as an American, and now he feels as if he’s gotten the golden ticket to his future — sort of.

"It’s everything we need to be successful in the U.S., you know?" he said with a smile. "What more do we need than to be able to work legally and have a driver’s license and have a work permit?"

But the application can be revoked at any time and because Paul isn't a citizen he can't vote for the politicians he believes will support the continuation of the program. He’ll find out in December if he's been accepted into the program. Meanwhile, he’ll continue to work with YES in their effort to get others to vote.

"This is one of the years where we have to work the hardest to keep this law in the system," Paul said.  

sandy August 23, 2012 at 10:47 PM
blah blah blah... How can you claim a land that wasn't yours to begin with and put all these rules and restrictions and call people criminals?
a quiet conservative August 23, 2012 at 10:49 PM
If he has and used an illegal SSN why would he not think any less of voting..he has a name and address and a drivers license. I would wager $100 to Feeding America that he could register and vote in the City of Racine. That is neither here nor there. He is here illegally, using a fake SSN but since we live in and near sactuary cities they will not deliver illegal alien lawbreakers to ICE to send them back home. What of his parents, are they still here and if so are they working, filing taxes with their Green card numbers or fake SSN's? Voting, Filing/paying taxes (unlikely) are duties and rights of American citizens...he isn't and does not meet the criteria.
sandy August 23, 2012 at 10:51 PM
Mexico does not shoot their illegal immigrants shut up n get your facts straiight
Brian Dey August 24, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Heather A.- I totally disagree. Yes, it is their parents responsibility that they were brought here illegally, but it is not our responsibility to grant them immunity. You either have immigration law, or you don't. All this means is that if the ylived in the country that long undocumented, we didn't enforce the laws in the first place. In case you haven't noticed, we have millions of naturalized citizens in need of a job. We have an Attorney General and a President that have totally ignored the law. Anyone that tries to enforce it, like in the case of Arizona, they do every thing they can to twart those efforts. It is not that difficult of a solution. If you are an undocumented immigrant, you are sent back to your home country where you can leggaly apply for citizenship and a temporay visa to attend college or get a job, just like the Europeans had to, including my grandparents and mother-in-law. Whether or not yoyr parents brought you here has no bearing, you are still illegal. That they got away with getting an education off our tax dollars means that they perpetrated fraud, especially after the age of 18. The number one job of the President of the United States is to protect the borders and like everything else this President does, throws right into the face of peole that did it the right way.
Brian Dey August 24, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Voces is a sham Sandy. And way to go; typical liberal playing the race card. Try looking up the term "illegal" and get your facts straight.
Mafia Mike August 24, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Irbin perez... Americans won't work on a farm, cleaning, roofing or painting because we are here legally, have great jobs and don't have to do the dirty work that you gringos have no choice but to do. Now that you made a comment on the internet, the ICE agents have your IP address and you'll be deported back to Mexico that you would rather be in. Hahahahaha!!!!! BUSTED!!!!
oak creek resident August 24, 2012 at 02:50 PM
This article should be titled - "DACA sells out America for the sake of votes for Democrats"... or "DACA act shows that breaking the law is OK, and encourages illegal aliens to come here"
oak creek resident August 24, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Sandy is a pathetic racist leach.
Pamela August 25, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I feel for the young people who were dragged here by their parents, but our country needs to stand by it's laws. The message to the whole world and especially to those countries to our south, should be to either respect our laws or go home!!. There should be no way to exist here "in-between". You are either abiding by the law or are punished for breaking the law. Period. No citizenship = NO JOB, NO HOUSING, NO EDUCATION etc.. I would even vote to deport those harboring non-citizens and suspend business licenses for those employing them. Once a work visa has expired, it's expired. Period. Now that's how you run a country governed by it's citizens, for it's citizens. Not to be pushed, until they are on the outside looking in. PERIOD.
sandy August 27, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Wow really "our nation"? How did your ancestors come here? Why did they come here? Who did they take this land from? Okay, you sure told me!!! Look make you a deal i'll pack my bags as soon as you pack yours!!!! All that bs about world freaking peace and lets help each other is a bunch of crap. We are all here for the same reason and that is " out of neccesity and to live" just like you. Illegal Aliens huh wow wtf do we look like chewbacca? Whatever, you guys all hating are ignorant wish you could walk a day in my shoes maybe then you could really talk!!! Until that shit happens don't assume it is easy or that we are happy breaking your so called effn laws!!!
sandy August 27, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Wow I know you don't expect people to believe your bs story!! Don't talk out your behind get your facts straight before you open your grill!!!
Toni August 30, 2012 at 09:57 AM
All these stories are funny coming from you so called legal americans. Bet money if one of u was to be deported back to a country you know nothing of youd be scared shitless. I know I would. So how you gone try an blame a child for coming here at such a young age an not wanting to leave when this is all they know. Oh an about the whole "illegal aliens are taking jobs from legal american" bullshit. Suggestion is get ya fat ass up off your couch go to school finish college. Become a doctor or something. We aint taking those jobs yet only cuz we cant do it legally but we coming. Oh we movin on up believe that....
sandy August 30, 2012 at 07:50 PM
That is why we are trying to do the right thing and become LEGAL!!!!! I have paid my taxes since i started working at 14 years of age and i paid alot more than someone who was legal but i am not complaining i contributed to this country as well. Dumb ass Mike says "they need to get out" really okay remember your here because of your ancestors and if it weren't for them you would probably wouldn't be here!!! Don't act like this land is yours to claim remember you stole it!!! So you want us out then pack your bags and we will do the same!!
sandy August 30, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Yup tell it like it is Toni we are moving on up!!! Its not our fault your lazy!!!! Hey we don't complain on the jobs that are given to us we take what there is a job is a job!! Stop being picky and you will see there's more than enough jobs to go around!!! Now lets see whats your next dumb wanna be comeback to this truth.....come on lets hear it!!! ha ha ha
James R Hoffa August 30, 2012 at 08:03 PM
@sandy - If you're illegal, then how do you pay income taxes without a social security number exactly? Do you file a tax return every year with both the federal and state governments?
sandy August 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM
@ James yes i do to federal and state. The government issues you what is called a tax I.D number or tti. So many people like you don't know the real facts. Just talk to talk and cause problems but the truth is a lot of us are working and paying into the system and yes we do pay more than what you pay call a penalty or whatever but we pay. Don't get it twisted I am not complaining I am just putting the real facts out there.
James R Hoffa August 30, 2012 at 11:54 PM
@sandy - The ITIN was created in 1996. So how did you pay income taxes prior to 1996?
sandy August 31, 2012 at 12:29 AM
@ James I didn't work before 1996 or 1996 i started working when i turned 14 years old. How old do you think I am? Wow
James R Hoffa August 31, 2012 at 01:21 AM
@sandy - Fair enough. It's not enough to change my position though. What if you were one the millions of people living in a foreign country that followed the appropriate legal immigration channels and are still waiting for approval on your application after years of being passed by and patiently waiting? Or how about a naturalized or home-born citizen who couldn't find even a minimum wage job while watching the illegals all round you obtain gainful employment? Would you feel differently about illegals if you were wearing different shoes? If not, could you explain the reasoning behind such a position?
sandy August 31, 2012 at 03:57 AM
@ James I can see where you are coming from and to answer your question.... the thing is this we take whatever job is thrown at us and trust me I have had some really dirty jobs in my life that other people with legal documents refuse. I don't understand why so many complaints if the jobs are there it's something else if you don't want to do it because it's a lot of labor but it is what it is it's a job!! To answer your question I don't I would feel different if I was in shoes and this is why we are all here for the same reason "to live" we are trying to work hard for a better future and out of neccesity. Another thing is I don't get why they refer to us as illegal aliens... we bleed the same color. If you deport me you will through me to world that I have never known, I have been here since I was 8 months old!! All I am asking for is a chance to do things right that is all just one chance!
Danais August 31, 2012 at 07:00 PM
I agree with Heather, Toni and Sandy..The majority of illegal aliens or undocumented immigrants (whatever you want to call them) do pay taxes and pay more than the average American citizen does using a ITIN, which is basically a taxpayers identification number. ITINs are for federal tax reporting only, and are not intended to serve any other purpose. IRS issues ITINs to help individuals comply with the U.S. tax laws, and to provide a means to efficiently process and account for tax returns and payments for those not eligible for Social Security Numbers (SSNs). Also many of them take or work the jobs that the majority of American citizens don't want, apply, or view as low-paying or dirty jobs. It is not only the fault of those without a legal SSN but also of the companies and jobs that allow illegal immigrants in the first place to work for them to avoid paying them a good hourly wage and in good working conditions since it's more inexpensive for them and they earn more money by exploiting these people who work in poor working conditions and low minimum paying jobs. I also believe that it is not the fault of these childhood arrivals for being here, when it was the decision of their parents and the decision of coming here that there illegal status is based upon. They do not know any other home but that of the US and many of them don't speak, read or write in spanish or have any knowledge of their country to survive,but they can adapt to living where they are legally from.
James R Hoffa August 31, 2012 at 07:16 PM
OK, what if we granted all the working illegals who were originally brought here by their parents amnesty on the condition that they pay at least 50% more in taxes than an equivalent legal citizen for the remainder of their lives in the country while those who only financially drain the system, as opposed to contributing to it, are deported. I guess Hoffa could go along with this. Would sandy and others supporting the pro-amnesty position go along with such a proposal? There has to be some kind of equalizing factor to balance out the fairness and justice factors involved, and this is the most effective one that Hoffa can think of. If not, then what equalizing factors do you propose be implemented to account for the fundamental fairness and justice issues inherent in this situation?
sandy September 03, 2012 at 05:55 AM
@ James I agree to those people that are just here to leech of the system need to be deported. I think that the thing to do is background check everyone and see what they have contributed to this country, how long they have been here. For a work permit and license for example they should require at least 3 years of work experience with taxes up to date. I am not saying give them citizenship, I think in order for that they need to prove themselves worthy and really prove that they want to be here. I understand that people make mistakes and some people might have a criminal offense and if so then for them to prove that they have changed and that they can be trusted and for all the people that have received welfare for their children they should pay whatever they got back in order to get a work permit and once that is paid off then grant them citizenship. James I don't think its fair to just let those people slide if they have done nothing but drained the system. If i had to work hard to get where I am today and did it, I don't see why these other people can't do it!! Yes you are right lets be fair.... If you are here to drain the system and leech of it then you need to get out and leave that opportunity to people that really want to move forward for a better future!!
James R Hoffa September 03, 2012 at 06:12 AM
@sandy - That's a very admirable and responsible position to take! I told you we could find some common ground ;-)
Annie Nominous September 03, 2012 at 06:30 AM
Let's cut to the real issue here - the democrats know that eventually Voter Photo ID WILL be the law of the land (the Supreme Court has already said so). This is part of the democrats' scheme to allow illegals to vote. A driver's license will pass as acceptable Voter Photo ID. Do not be fooled. The democrats seem to always be one step ahead of the law when it comes to vote fraud in this country. Never-mind that the law-abiding legitimate voters are TRULY the "disenfranchised" in this country.
sandy September 03, 2012 at 06:37 AM
@ James, I have met people that disgust me with what they are doing just leaching of the system and not caring and have told them "it's because of people like you they don't want us here" Why come here if your not going to strive for a better future all these lazy people are doing is screwing it up for all the rest of the people that really want a better life. The way I see it is this is my home and I will do whatever it takes to make it better! :p
thomas coyne October 08, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Does anyone who can do anything read all this? I listened to Obama say how he reduced health care fraud.Really?Wake up America.I know for a fact 150 illegal people out of thousands in Milwaukee working under a fake name and getting state free health care,food stamps.Really Obama is this ok for people like myself and thousands of other hard working Amercans to continue to pay for this?When will our government admit its out of control.
sandy October 19, 2012 at 07:34 AM
sure blame all the problems on illegal immigrants. Im illegal i work under MY NAME self contractor if you must know i do have a tin number under which i pay taxes. Get your facts straight before you go talking shit. By the way where do you get that 150 illegal people are doing what you claim?
Mafia Mike October 19, 2012 at 09:36 AM
Democrats want as many illegal aliens in our country as possible. They know that, sooner or later, the political pressure to give the illegals citizenship will become irresistible. Since new Hispanics almost always vote Democrat, they view illegal immigrants as new pool of reliable Democratic voters. How cynical can you get. Maintaining political power is more important than the rule of law? Sheesh.
sandy February 27, 2013 at 07:11 AM
@ Mike Itzenhuiser why don't come and pack them for me... I guess i struck a nerve, the truth hurts huh!!


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