April 25, 2024

Photo Courtesy of Jose Mejia

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Carried in his “courageous” mother’s arms at the age of 2, Jose Mejia said he made the long journey from Mexico City to the United States in 1997.

Since then, Mejia, 28, who comes from a family of 11 — four brothers, four sisters and his parents, Reyna Martinez and Raul Mejia — has known no other home. Settling in Port Richmond, Mejia grew up on Staten Island and graduated Port Richmond High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science with a minor in legal studies, and a Master of Science degree in management and healthcare administration, both from the College of Staten Island in Willowbrook.

Mejia appears to be very much like his peers who grew up on Staten Island.

But there’s one big difference. Because Mejia was brought to America as a child, he lacks permanent legal status. And he has no pathway to citizenship, as he is part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — a program established under an executive action by former President Barack Obama — which allows those brought to the U.S. as minors to remain in the country.

However, these “Dreamers,” as they have been dubbed based on never-passed proposals in Congress called the DREAM Act, have to apply every two years to continue to live and work in the U.S.

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