First DACA Recipient Receives Position with Congressman Gutierrez

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessLife for José M. Quintero, 25, has certainly gotten better this year after he received a full-time position working in Congressman Luis Gutierrez’s District Office in Humboldt Park. “Sometimes I still can’t believe I am here…in some ways doing government work,” said Quintero. The reason why Quintero’s new position is so important is simple. Quintero, an undocumented youth, was one of the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants to receive worth authorization and his official two-year reprieve from deportation, in the nation. “It was a great moment for me and for my family because now I am able to pursue my dream career and be able to officially work,” said Quintero.

A native of Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, Quintero, along with his family, migrated to Chicago when he was just 6 years-old. And although Quintero knew Chicago was his new home, the concept of being undocumented and all that it implicated didn’t occur to him until after high school graduation. “When I began to apply for scholarships and summer jobs, they asked me for my social security and other information I just didn’t have,” said Quintero. “So when I asked my parents what that meant for me, I realized it meant I didn’t have the same benefits as some of my friends.”

Instead of letting his status deter him from seeking higher education, Quintero received his Associates Degree from Harold Washington College. Soon after, he dedicated himself to helping other students in similar situations by volunteering at Sin Fronteras. When DACA was introduced by President Obama last summer, Quintero felt it was time to apply. With the help of Sin Fronteras and reps for Congressman Gutierrez, Quintero applied for DACA through the Congressman’s office on the first day applications were accepted. “When I received approval and when it was told to me that I was one of the first, it was an incredible feeling,” said Quintero.

Impressed with Quintero’s work in the community, the Congressman hired Quintero on a temporary basis in December and made him a full-time employee with benefits in January of this year. “I am challenging my colleagues to put their money where their mouths are and hire young people who have come forward, applied and received work authorization,” Rep. Gutierrez said in a statement. Part of Quintero’s responsibilities include, overlooking casework in the Congressman’s Chicago office, specializing in helping DACA applicants fill-out the necessary forms and documents to apply.

Currently, Quintero has plans to apply to several universities across the country, but if you think seeking a career in policy is at the top of his agenda, thing again. “I really want to be an architect,” laughed Quintero. “That surprises most people. But I’ve always wanted to be an architect. So I look forward to achieving my dream.”

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