Monserrat Velazquez: She canceled her flight to Mexico when DACA was announced


DACA status: Expires in December. She will seek a two-year extension.

Backstory:  Velazquez has been in West Michigan since she was came to the U.S. illegally at age 4 from Mexico with her mother and two siblings. She recalled teasing early in school, as she struggled to read and speak English. “But now I look back and giggle because I should be grateful that I can speak two languages,” she once wrote.

Velazquez was 16 when her father was deported in 2011, swept up at his job at a restaurant by immigration agents. When she turned 18, her mother moved to Mexico to join her father, leaving her with a hard choice: Should she stay or go? She was within a week of flying back to Mexico when Obama announced DACA. She canceled her flight. “It was a blessing he did that,” she said.

Achievements: She is a manager in a suburban Grand Rapids restaurant. She earned an associate degree in business administration from Grand Rapids Community College.

Ambitions: She plans to attend Grand Valley State University in January. She’d like to work in marketing or business when she graduates. “I’ve always worked,” she said.

Fears: “I don’t regret staying these five years. I’ve been able to accomplish so many things. I’ve been able to work legally and grow within the (restaurant) where I work.”

Plan if DACA expires: She could sign documents to turn over her assets to a relative who expects to become a citizen. Or she could send money home “little by little” to Mexico. “So if I have to go back, I would have that.” In the meantime, Velazquez said: “I will keep moving forward. We will overcome this.”

Reaction to possible deal:  “If Trump is willing to do something, that’s good. That’s where the hope would come in. When something  is done, that’s when I will know that I am safe to stay here.”

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