Woman who utilized DACA program working to become U.S. citizen - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Woman who utilized DACA program working to become U.S. citizen

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When Lili Madrid was only 9 years old, her family entered the United States illegally- something Madrid didn't understand until high school. 

"I just thought, we're coming with my dad- we're coming to meet him,"  her dad was in the country illegally before her mom and her siblings joined him. Madrid says she didn't know what was happening at the time but her family had applied for visas multiple times before they made the decision. 

In high school, Madrid's classmates were getting their driver's licenses- that was one of the first moments Madrid realized she was different. 

Fast forward to the end of her high school years, Madrid wanted to apply for college- with no social security she was unable to apply. 

"I had received college credits and I went to ask about them and they said we have no records for you," said Madrid. 

A year after high school Madrid married her high school sweetheart, who is an American citizen. Marriage alone does not qualify individuals to become an American citizen. Since Madrid entered the country illegally, it made the process that much more difficult. 

President Obama's "DACA" program eventually allowed Madrid to apply for a work permit and get a driver's license. 

"The doors just opened for me," said Madrid. 

When Madrid began the process to become a permanent resident- the stakes were high. A mother of 2 and a wife "there were times I thought wow at any moment someone could knock on my door and say come one let's go and I'd be ripped apart form my children and my husband," said Madrid. 

"We were afraid, we were afraid to move forward with the process because we knew that we had to go to Mexico to move forward with the process," said Madrid. She eventually made it to Mexico and was able to get approved to come back to the United States and begin the process. 

A year ago Madrid received her permanent resident status, she still has at least 2 years before she can apply for U.S. citizenship.

Madrid is grateful for DACA in that she was able to work and later go to school. After receiving her permanent resident status, the college credits she accumulated in high school were also granted. 

"I want people to understand that DACA recipients are a great asset to the United States," said Madrid. "These people want to work and get a higher education to serve out community."

While DACA is not a path to citizenship, Madrid believes it helped her get back on her feet to eventually start that path. 

Difference between Permanent Resident and a U.S. Citizen

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services a Permanent Resident has the following rights: live permanently in the United States provided you do not commit any actions that would make you removable under immigration law, work in the United States at any legal work of your qualification and choosing. (Please note that some jobs will be limited to U.S. citizens for security reasons), and they are protected by all laws of the United States, your state of residence and local jurisdictions

Permanent Residents also have to pay taxes, and follow all laws- they do not have the right to vote. 

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