Sunnyvale ‘Dreamer’ Heads to Capitol Hill to Advocate for DACA Recipients
By Kalpana Peddibhotla/MPLG Founder
Since 2010, I have represented Ruchir Parikh and his family, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1992 when Ruchir was only six years old. For the past twenty-five years, this “DREAMer” has been struggling to stay in the only country he knows as home.
Ruchir graduated from San Jose State University and is currently working at cloud identity management giant Okta Inc. He is a DACA recipient, however his stay in the U.S. is in peril. The Trump administration rescinded DACA on Sept. 5, 2017, but two lower court decisions have allowed the program to remain in place temporarily, and for renewal applications to be accepted. Ruchir’s DACA status expires in 2019.
On April 1st, he was featured on BBC World TV News in response to President Donald Trump’s Easter day comments regarding the future of DACA.
Earlier this month, Ruchir and I travelled to Washington D.C. along with the leadership of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, to share his story. Ruchir’s mission for his day on the Hill was to advocate for a clean Dream Act, which would protect him and approximately 1.5 million undocumented youth from deportation.
Ruchir and I met with several Congressional staffers from Senator Dick Durbin, Kamala Harris, and Diane Feinstein’s offices. He also met staffers from Representative Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and Ro Khanna’s offices; each representing constituents residing in portions of Northern California’s Silicon Valley.
Ruchir is an excellent advocate for the thousands of Dreamers who face the prospect of deportation. Congressional staff members were inspired by his story and hoped to be able to move his story forward into comprehensive legislation.
Unfortunately, Ruchir ended up in this situation due to numerous delays by our immigration system in hearing his parents’ asylum claim. He and his parents came to the U.S. fleeing persecution in their home country of India during the Sikh separatist movement in Punjab. His parents followed all proper procedures to seek the protection of the U.S. by timely filing an asylum application.
However, his parents were not interviewed for their asylum case until October 2003 – nearly 12 years after his father first applied for asylum. They did not receive a decision on their case until 6 years later, in December 2009, at which time the Asylum Office determined that Ruchir’s father had been persecuted, but that the country conditions had changed in those 18 years from when he first sought asylum.
Meanwhile, Ruchir’s younger sister Ridhi, who was born in the U.S., had turned 21 and was able to sponsor her parents, who now have green cards. Ruchir, however, is not considered an immediate family relative for immigration purposes – thus his only relief has been DACA.
Ruchir is the sole breadwinner for his family. The 33-year-old paid his way through college, bought his sister’s car, and paid his family’s mortgage. As an asylee applicant and as a DACA recipient, he has never engaged in unauthorized employment.
Ruchir remains in danger of being deported once his DACA status expires. “Neither I, nor my parents have ever worked without authorization and have faithfully sought the protections of U.S. immigration. I believe this country intended to protect us and would have given us all immigration relief, but we simply fell through the cracks. I hope that Congress will act quickly to protect Dreamers like me,” he said.
Ruchir is the embodiment of not only the child we all hope to have, but he is the prime example of the hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients that our system has failed. It should be our nation’s priority to support them and provide a pathway to citizenship. Ruchir is just one example of the positive impact DACA recipients have on our economy and our society.