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(From Iowa JFON Attorney Ann Naffier’s June 6, 2015 Staff Report to the Justice for Our Neighbors Standing Committee of the Conference Board of Global Ministries.)
Betty was born in Honduras, but came to the U.S. with her mother when she was just three years old. Betty grew up in Iowa, graduated from high school, and started her own family here, but she was undocumented. Like many undocumented, she resorted to using false documents to work in order to support her family. Unfortunately, she was caught and convicted of felony identity theft. In 2011 Betty was diagnosed with leukemia. She was not expected to survive it. But, with medical treatment,and many prayers, in 2012 she began to slowly recover. That same year, President Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). Betty would have been the perfect candidate for DACA, except for her felony conviction. Still DACA is a discretionary program---meaning that if an applicant can show circumstances that merit favorable discretion, even barriers like old convictions can theoretically be overcome. With JFON’s assistance, Betty was able to show the U.S. government that she was a person deserving of DACA despite her conviction, and her application was eventually approved. Betty is still in treatment for her leukemia, but the prognosis is good, and now, thanks to DACA, she is able to work legally, pay for treatment and support her family.