An undocumented immigrant applied to medical school thanks to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Dr. Laura Gutierrez Spencer has helped many students achieve their dreams by guiding them and inspiring them in their academic endeavors through the University of New Mexico Chicano Programs. Cesar Montelongo, an undocumented student who was admitted to Medical school, is one of them.

Cesar was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. His family immigrated to the United States when he was ten years old. He attended New Mexico State University, where he met Dr. Laura Spencer who encouraged him to continue his path. He received three Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s Degree in Biology.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allowed Cesar to apply to medical school –which he described as a life-changing opportunity. He was admitted to the MD-PhD program at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago, the first school to openly admit DACA students, however, despite being on a track to become a physician, there is no clear path for him to obtain legal residency.

“Over 18 years ago, my uncle had submitted a family-sponsored visa application on behalf of my family. Because only a finite number of visas are granted each year, we were told it would take 10 to 12 years before receiving one. Upon speaking with an immigration lawyer, my sister and I were informed that we were no longer part of the family application. Had my sister and I been 22 or 23 years old, the lawyer could have made a case for us, but age 25 and 26 was out of the question. As per immigration guidelines, we were no longer part of our family. Despite standing “in line” since we were small children, the process had taken so long that it had disqualified us,” explained Cesar for the Huffington Post.

“There are inherent difficulties in being admitted to medical school as an undocumented immigrant. Despite obstacles, undocumented immigrant students are currently enrolled in medical school programs throughout the nation. How can these students succeed when they have nearly a one-in-a-million chance of doing so? It is because we are given that chance. No matter how small the prospect is, no matter how tortuous the path, we have the opportunity to be considered alongside all the other 731,000 medical school applications. The fundamental reason that I was accepted into an MD-PhD program is because I was given a chance.

“My story is not a unique story. This is the story of a person who wishes to be an asset to this nation. A person who has lived in this country for nearly 20 years without unlawful action. A person who attempted by all means available to obtain legal residence. And through all this, a person who still finds themselves undocumented now and for the foreseeable future. It is a story shared by millions of children, students, and trained professionals currently in the United States.”

Click here to learn more about Cesar.

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