Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series on DACA recipients. Continue to stay updated with the Daily Lobo for more information.
Jazmin Coronel is the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient at the University of New Mexico to be sworn into the bar to become a practicing attorney.
This special circumstance, however, came with conditions, she said.
“I still only have DACA. I don’t have any other type of protection at this time. The Board of Bar Examiners and the New Mexico Supreme Court had to make a decision, so two months and some change later, they decided to admit me, but it was a conditional admission. Meaning that I am allowed to have a license to practice law in good standings so long as I have work authorization. Well DACA was rescinded, and my work authorization ends in late April,” Coronel said.
To be sworn into the Bar, students embark on a long journey through the UNM law program and often receive help from many individuals.
Coronel financially struggled to participate in the program and was nearly dropped from it, she said. Without “a single dollar in (her) account,” Coronel said the Bursar’s Office told her she had three months to pay $3,000 in order to continue to participate in the UNM Law Program.
Coronel worked 45 to 50 hour weeks as a nursing assistant to help pay tuition costs, she said. She also received help from her mother and other people close to her who would help in any way they could, she said.
Coronel’s husband would help her buy and rent books. Coronel recalled other times money was tight and said help from others allowed her to pursue the BAR.
“There was one time my mom didn’t have enough money to pay for utility bills, so they shut off our gas and our electricity. One of the Career Services deans contacted a nonprofit board and they got a scholarship together, and they gave me that money, because at the time not only did they shut off the utilities, but I had to submit my BAR application, (which) was $500, and I don’t have that money,” Coronel said.
Her success through the UNM law program came from not only herself but the people around her, she said.
“I, by myself, wouldn’t be here. I had a lot of people help me get here. It’s been a journey, it’s only been three years since I’ve been in law school, but it feels like 10,” Coronel said.
She and her twin sister, Yazmin Irazoqui, grew up not knowing they were undocumented; thus, the need to assimilate, to blend into a system that discriminates against them in retrospect was a pretty traumatizing experience, she said.
“Often what it did would strip a lot of younger immigrant kids of their culture, and that’s something that I definitely did experience,” Coronel said.
It was not until Coronel entered her second year of law school that she really began to experience what her culture is — that was when she met the New Mexico Dream Team, she said.
Receiving DACA for the first time came with conflicting feelings, Coronel said.
“We live in this system that tells us that we don’t exist, that we’re not worthy, that we’re less than — and this stupid little nine-digit number that comes along with two years of deferred action is supposed to make it okay,” she said.
Coronel is an activist in the immigration movement and said when she met the Dream Team and other organizations, she realized that her story means something.
“It definitely steered me in the direction of being an advocate in the immigrant rights movement and trying to voice all of the concerns of other immigrant youth that I know that have been saying for years things that people wont listen to,” Coronel said. “I know amazing individuals who have taught me a lot, but they are not sitting before you. They’re not sitting before KOAT or national Univision. Why? Because the media looks for these ‘high-profile Dreamers’ when I feel like it has to be worth more.”
For Coronel, the term, “Dreamer,” capitalizes on the 1 percent of immigrants who qualify for DACA and are considered assets to society, but it does not include the entirety of those who need to be addressed, such as parents, she said.
“The term, ‘Dreamer,’ has a lot of social capital, and people know what you mean when you say ‘a Dreamer,’” Coronel said. “So the mainstream media and a lot of politicians with agendas use ‘Dreamer’ to describe individuals who are over achieving probably the 1 percent of the immigrant rights movement. I may be one of those 1 percents — some people may describe me as one — and it angers me, because...there are other individuals who are far smarter than I am — far more resilient than I am — but were dealt a different deck of cards.”
Others wanted to help her when they heard about her situation; however people do not often want to help other DACA recipients who are not in a professional degree-seeking program, she said.
“When I think about the word, ‘Dreamer,’ I think about our parents, because we wouldn’t be here without our parents if it weren’t because they had the forethought to dream for us...So it depends of who you’re asking. I’m not a fan of that term, but it gets used because of that social capital,” Coronel said.
She still plans to use her finance background and currently works as an economic development manager at a nonprofit legal organization, where she focuses on consumer protection law and tax law and helps immigrants develop their businesses.
Amy Byres is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She primarily writes profiles on DACA recipients. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @amybyres12.