Immigration Maze

Immigration is one of the hot-button issues in the 2016 presidential race -- particularly among Republican candidates. One young Texas man's story shows the real-world implications of our immigration laws on people brought to this country as children. The now 26-year-old is speaking out about his experience when he was a 19-year-old student at the University of Texas at Austin and the years-long legal morass in which he found himself.

It started when the young man, who moved to Central Texas from Mexico with his parents when he was 10, was pulled over by campus police for a broken taillight. Because he had an unpaid traffic ticket, he was taken to jail. His fingerprints were submitted to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he was moved to the South Texas Detention Facility. He spent a week there facing possible deportation.

Thousands Signed Petition to Prevent College Student's Deportation

The case gained media attention throughout the state, and thousands signed a petition to stop his deportation. In the end, he was not deported. With the help of UT's immigration clinic, which offers help to the approximately 300 undocumented students in the UT system, he got his removal proceedings frozen.

If he wants to pursue American citizenship, however, he has to have the case reopened. He and his fiancée, an American citizen whom he's known since their middle-school days, are expecting a son. He says that when he's old enough, he'll tell his son that he's lucky to be born here, not to take it for granted and to know "what I went through for you to get here."

Deportation Process Has Changed Under the Obama Administration -- But for How Long?

The man has since qualified for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama Administration implemented DACA to let children of immigrants apply for work permits as long as they're not considered a national security threat.

Because of other changes made under the Obama Administration, ICE is less likely to be notified when people are arrested for minor infractions, and undocumented people are less likely to face deportation. However, as immigration rights advocates point out, that could all change depending on who next occupies the White House.

Despite the changes to immigration laws in recent years, those who came here as children illegally, through no fault of their own, still face limitations on their rights and, in some cases, the risk of deportation to a country they barely remember. That's why immigration attorneys work to protect the rights of those who find their lives upended because of their immigration status.