05/16/2013 09:32 am ET

The 'Proof Of Residency' Catch For DREAMers In Recent Immigration Reforms


Dominican-native Yilbert Pena used to divide his life into two halves. The first half was the blithe era until his 16th birthday. That day he went to his mother asking for the papers he needed for his drivers permit application and discovered he possessed none of them. Pena is a burly, affable presence and quick to smile, but he offers a gloomy analogy to describe learning of his undocumented status. "It's like suddenly becoming handicapped," he says. "Everyone around you is doing stuff you can't." Seeing no benefit in earning a high school diploma if he was barred from jobs that demanded one, Pena dropped out. He fathered a child. Paranoid about being deported to an island country he had left when he was eight years old, he hid his status from everyone he knew, including the mother of his daughter.

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