Seizing Opportunities: Isaac’s Story

Isaac was just six months old when he was brought to the United States. Although his family has never talked about what compelled them to leave Hidalgo, Mexico more than 30 years ago, Isaac now understands why his parents took that risk. 

“There are a lot more opportunities here,” said Isaac, who now lives in Santa Rosa, California with his wife and three sons. “Now that I’m older and I have my own kids, I can see why my parents decided to come here.”

Growing up undocumented meant living in constant fear.

Isaac lived in Southern California for over a decade before moving to Sonoma County as a teenager. Although the U.S. is the only home he’s ever known, he faced many barriers growing up due to his immigration status. Simple things that many take for granted, such as getting a driver’s license, were unattainable for Isaac.

“You had to do what you could to work,” said Isaac. “It was hard and always nerve-wracking because I wanted to better myself but couldn’t because of a lot of other things beyond my control.”

When he learned about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Isaac jumped at the opportunity to apply. He worked with a private attorney and paid expensive legal fees in order to get a work permit and protection from deportation.

Now, Isaac no longer has to feel scared when driving, working, or simply living his life. “DACA made my life more peaceful,” he said.

Due to the high cost of private legal services, Isaac connected with IIBA for free DACA Renewal support.

To avoid paying costly legal fees, Isaac tried completing the DACA renewal application by himself. Although there were no complications, he felt very nervous throughout the process, knowing that one mistake could jeopardize everything.

When it came time for him to renew again, Isaac was relieved to learn about IIBA’s free and low-cost immigration legal services through a friend. He attended a DACA Renewal Clinic in 2018 and has worked with IIBA to renew his DACA status every two years since. IIBA has also helped Isaac save nearly $1,000 in application filing fees through grants from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). His wife became a U.S. citizen in July 2023, again thanks to IIBA’s encouragement and legal support. 

“The IIBA team was really on top of it,” said Isaac, who now refers everyone in need of immigration legal assistance to IIBA. “I’m really grateful for your program and what you guys do.”

Looking forward, Isaac hopes to honor his parents’ sacrifices by continuing to build his career, family, and life in the U.S.

Isaac’s respect and appreciation for his parents have only grown over the years. He prioritizes time with his own children, recognizing that his parents didn’t have that luxury when they were raising him as immigrants in a new country. In his free time, you can catch Isaac playing music with his kids, cooking Mexican dishes, and spending quality time with his family. He also hopes to one day visit his birthplace of Hidalgo and explore the local culinary scene there.

Isaac currently works in the healthcare industry as a Restorative Nurse Assistant but plans to make a career transition to physical therapy in the near future. 

“You really can do anything here,” said Isaac, reflecting on his 33 years in the U.S. “It’s not always easy but you can – it’s always possible.”

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