Meet José, Marina and Helen

“Our daughter will have access to more opportunities than we had, we hope she’ll go far.”

Hope Starts HereMeet José, Marina and Helen

José was a young child when he was brought to the US, encouraged to believe that he would have everything he needed here. Marina was slightly older and more reluctant to leave behind her friends and successful academic achievements in Columbia.

Both sought legal status through DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) when they became adults and Marina later obtained a green card and worked tirelessly to realize her dream, achieving US citizenship.

Meet The Aguilars

José and Marina’s paths crossed in middle school. Initially, they clashed. Despite both being newcomers from fairly similar backgrounds, they had different priorities and personalities. Marina was a highly focused student, intent on making the honor roll. José was not studious and ended up hanging out with a destructive group of kids. But all of that changed in high school when friends paired them up on a double date. Today, Marina is serving as José’s sponsor in his bid to obtain citizenship. Married, the two have a beautiful 3-year old daughter, Helen.
Their relationship had a rocky start because Marina’s mother was wary of Jose’s friends, his tattoos and overall attitude, which at the time was somewhat rebellious. Eventually, love won out and both of their parents help raise and care for little Helen.

José is working on obtaining US citizenship in order to own his own construction business, seeking to earn a better income to provide for his family. “I cannot become a contractor and own a business unless I am a US citizen,” explained José. “So no matter how hard I work, I get paid whatever the contractor feels is fair,” said José. Marina recently earned a raise at her job as a phlebotomist and seeks to capitalize on her bilingual abilities to go even further. “My company recognizes the value in having an employee who can explain procedures to Spanish-speaking patients,” said Marina.

They rightfully have big dreams for Helen’s future. According to Marina, “We were brought here to have a better life than our parents had. Our daughter will have access to even more opportunities than we had and we hope that she will go far. Her preschool teachers tell us that she is very smart, who knows, Helen might grow up to be a doctor someday.” This would please her mother. Marina was particularly adept at math and science and had hoped to study nursing in college but those plans took a detour when she learned she was pregnant with Helen. Instead, she found a shorter path to a health career as a phlebotomist.