Government delays create roadblock to work for DREAMers

As the Dream Act continues to hobble through Congress, the human toll on innocent, undocumented immigrant young people continues to create nightmares.  

Innocent children of illegal immigrants, whether brought here or born here, live in fear of what's currently happening to Silvia Estrada.       

Estrada was all of two-years-old when her parents brought her across the border making her technically, an undocumented immigrant.

"This has been all my life. I don't know anything else other than here in the U.S.," said Ms. Estrada. She has been qualified to work under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which has more than 825,000 participants.

Last year, and all through the pandemic, Estrada has been an anesthesia technician at Kaiser-Permanente in San Leandro on her way to being a nurse. "So I'm continuing my school regardless of the job I have," said Estrada.

On Friday, Kaiser-Permanante called her in to fire her. Why?

Immigration Services is awash in applications and unable to process them quickly due to COVID and, says long time immigration attorney Fariba Faiz, the reason could be political.

"It has a lot to do with the lack of accountability that was instituted during the Trump administration," said Ms. Faiz.

Though Ms. Estrada applied for her permit at the end of October and should be allowed to work -- Immigration's own shortcoming, not hers-- is the roadblock.

"Employers are required to make sure that their crews, their staffs are employment authorized," said Faiz.

Employers are subject to stiff fines for employing or continuing to employ people without these work documents. But, employers may ask immigration to speed up the process if the person is a critical or essential worker, which Ms. Estrada is.

"Correct. Yeah, I mean this is in the national interest of the U.S.," said Faiz.

So, without that paperwork, Estrada is essentially unemployable.

"It's gonna be really difficult for me to get a job after this and it's really tragic for me," said Estrada.

Kaiser-Permanente told KTVU that her termination meeting has now been set back until Monday. We asked East Bay Congressman Mark Desaulnier to look into it. We also asked Immigration Services to look into the matter.