February 2, 2023
For Mixed-Status Students, Immigration Reform Is the Only Hope
By Lisa Herforth-Hebbert
More than 22 million people in the US are in mixed-status households, where at least one undocumented person lives with citizens or lawful temporary immigrants.
Since Daymieri Ariciel Narvaez was a child, she wanted was to help her parents live without fear. As the daughter of undocumented immigrants, she dreamed of enrolling in the military so that they could obtain a green card and no longer be at risk of deportation. “I was always afraid that I wouldn’t find my parents when I got home.”
Narvaez is part of a mixed-status family. According to FWD.us, more than 22 million people in the United States live in mixed-status households, where at least one undocumented person lives with US citizens or lawful temporary immigrants. Mixed-status families can include a couple where one spouse is a citizen and the other is undocumented, or a household where the parents are undocumented but the children are protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Nearly half of all DACA recipients live in mixed-status families. Children in a mixed-status household are often forced to take on vital roles—acting as translators, legal representatives, and intermediaries between the US system and their immigrant family members.
For the children of undocumented immigrants, trying to fulfill these responsibilities is laborious and confusing. “I had the trauma of an immigrant child who always wants to do something to help their parents but cannot do anything,” said Narvaez. But despite those obstacles, her parents pushed her to continue her education. Now, Narvaez is a freshman at Columbia University with a full scholarship, pursuing a biomedical engineering major.