January 4 was a historic day for our paralegal Hulda Mazariegos, who I first met 7 years ago when I represented her in deportation proceedings. Hulda became a U.S. Citizen.
This might not sound like such a great accomplishment, but Hulda overcame incredible obstacles to reach this stage. Univision did a terrific job in reporting on Hulda’s citizenship ceremony and even pulled out 2004 archival footage from when she was in deportation proceedings. (That’s me with Hulda’s family members, waving their “papers” after winning their immigration cases at 26 Federal Plaza.)
Hulda’s family fled from the civil war in Guatemala nearly 20 years ago. They were caught by immigration agents and later ordered deported from the United States. Hulda, who was just 8 years old when she crossed the border, did not let something as trivial as a deportation order stop her. Living in poverty with her eight siblings in a 2-bedroom cottage in Wyandanch, she excelled in high school and became the school’s valedictorian. St. Joseph’s College offered her a full-paid scholarship, but when school officials discovered that she was not only illegal but also had a deportation order, they quickly withdrew their offer. She spent the year after graduation working at a deli.
Fortunately, the stars aligned and thanks to her father’s legal status, we were able to reopen Hulda’s case. On July 28, 2004, Hulda and her younger siblings walked out of 26 Federal Plaza with their “papers” — proof that they had been approved for green cards. The New York Times did an excellent front-page article about Hulda and other “DREAM Kids” on Long Island. She went on to complete college with honors and and start her family. Then then returned to work for our office as a paralegal. Her next goal — no doubt about it — is to go to law school and become an attorney (hopefully for our office!).
Please take a few minutes to watch Univision’s coverage. Her story has been an inspiration to thousands of undocumented immigrants who have so much to offer to this country. They want to become Americans and to share our values and ideals. Let’s hope their dreams come true, also.