Jose Arias did not curse fate when, at age 7, a car side swiped the car where he sat on a road in his native Dominican Republic and tore off his entire right leg. And he did not curse fate when his four-year-old son was diagnosed as deaf.
Instead he took any job he could get from cleaning cars to painting houses in Puerto Rico. He and his son received legal U.S. permanent residence there nearly 20 years ago.
He also did all he could to help his son work hard as he did to overcome his own disability. During school semesters, he sent the younger Jose to a school for the deaf in their native Dominican Republic because the school offered him a scholarship and a superior education than similar schools in Puerto Rico. And during holidays and the summer months, he reinforced with his son the value of working hard to move beyond their life of poverty.
But when the U.S immigration authorities incorrectly took away young Jose’s green card in July 2011, Mr. Arias and his son did not accept this as fate. Instead, for more than two years they fought back, hobbling from street to street and office to office speaking in Spanish, broken English and sign language to reverse this erroneous immigration decision.
Finally, thanks to free legal support supplied by Catholic Charities, an immigration judge completely reversed the flawed 2011 decision on October 24, 2013. Now that Jose del Carmen is acknowledged once again as a lawful permanent U.S. resident he plans to complete studies to become a computer technician and land a job that will enable him to support his father as well.