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Olympic DREAMer

Friday, August 10, 2012

With the window to request deferred action for childhood arrivals to open on August 15th, USCIS has published online updated information that spells out the criterion for applicant along with answers to frequently asked questions (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process). And as the 2012 Summer Olympics come to a close and deferred action is set to inspire other hopefuls, it is worth citing the story of Leo Manzano as an example of the potential and promise that could be unleashed in the months ahead.

Recently, featured 27-year-old Manzano’s unusual road to Olympic triumph after he won the silver medal in the 1500-meter final in London, setting the American record in the process (Former Undocumented Immigrant Leo Manzano Wins Silver Medal for U.S.). Manzano’s parents brought him to the U.S. at age 4 from Mexico. Through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, Manzono’s father gained legal residence, but it would take the younger Manzano ten years to obtain valid status. It was not until 2004 that he became a U.S. citizen, and he went on to garner a track scholarship at the University of Texas, where he was a five-time NCAA champion and an 11-time NCAA All-American. As the first high school and college graduate of his family, he fulfilled his dream of competing in the Olympics by representing the U.S. in 2008 in Beijing.

Manzano’s road to citizenship and the Olympics was clearly not an easy one, but there is little doubt that of the currently reported number of 1.76 million undocumented immigrants who could benefit from deferred action (, there are athletes and innovators of Olympic proportions who could benefit America. Those wishing consideration may apply if they 1) were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; 2) came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; 3) have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; 4) were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; 5) entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had their lawful immigration status expire as of June 15, 2012; 6) are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and 7) have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

So let the applications begin. And may those who submit requests remind us that when you defer dreams, you delay success. And some of that success may just be on the track of Olympic glory.

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