Miguel has never told anyone in his hometown of Sand Springs what he
discovered as a teenager.
He was brought to the U.S. by his mother at age 8 without legal documents.
"I was in shock when my parents told me," the 19-year-old said. "I thought everything would be the same here as in Mexico in terms of rights. I was kind of mad at them because they are the reason I'm here."
The Tulsa World is withholding his name at his request due to a fear of action by immigration officials, resulting in deportation.
Miguel was among about 60 undocumented immigrants attending a clinic hosted Saturday by DREAM Act Oklahoma at the Faith Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 2801 S. 129th East Ave. DREAM Act Oklahoma is a grass roots group dedicated to working for passage of the federal DREAM Act.
He is in the process of applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program created after President Barack Obama issued a directive June 15 giving relief to a specific group of undocumented youth.
Aspects of the qualifications mirror those contained in the DREAM Act, a decade-old measure pending in Congress. It gives a two-year reprieve from deportation and a chance to get a work permit and Social Security number.
It does not give legal residency or path to citizenship, creating a type of legal limbo.
The Tulsa clinic allowed immigrants to consult with immigration attorneys Rebekah Guthrie and Eddie Irwin on their applications. In addition to the six-page application, immigrants are required to provide a host of other supporting documents.
Miguel has since forgiven his parents, understanding why they risked the trip.
"All they wanted for me is to get a better life and education," he said. "I want to make them proud and worth the effort they went through for me. Mexico was dangerous and violent. A lot of kids get married young and don't finish school. And it's easier to get into drugs and gangs. They brought me here to be safe and educated."
Miguel crossed the border in 2001 from Mexico into Arizona with his mother and older sister to reunite with their father, who was working in Tulsa.
"I was excited because we all wanted to come here for so long and be with him," he said. "He had been gone so long I could not remember what he looked like."
Getting to Tulsa included a lot of walking and vehicle rides arranged by smugglers. He remembers wearing sandals and cactus burrs getting stuck to his bare feet.
He also remembers being held in a room with a group of other immigrants for three days, released only after smugglers received money from their father to complete the journey to an Oklahoma City Walmart.
Speaking no English, Miguel attended a south Tulsa elementary, splitting his days between an English as a Second Language program and traditional school.
Within nine months, he had learned enough English to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom.
"I was scared at first because I didn't know how to communicate with the teachers or students," he said. "At the same time, I was excited to learn two languages and knew I needed English."
He graduated from Charles Page High School in Sand Springs, where he earned B's and C's and played soccer. He also finished a two-year course in
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