Pedro A. Villalobos

Pedro A. VillalobosMy name is Pedro A. Villalobos, and I am currently a second year law student at the University of Texas School of Law. I was born in Mexico, but have called Houston my home since I was brought to the United States at 3 years old.

I knew I was undocumented when I was in high school, however, that word had no meaning to me. I had not experienced the ramifications until I started applying to college. As an undocumented student, I was ineligible for most financial aid. I was being accepted into all the schools I applied to, but the difficulties I faced in financing my education and the lack of access I had to financial help was my first time realizing that being undocumented wasn't just an abstract concept. It was a concept that had real-life negative consequences. Despite these obstacles, my drive and merit allowed me to attend the University of Texas at Austin and to graduate with a bachelor's degree in science in sports management, with a double minor in government and business, in May 2013.

In 2012, I spent most of my time volunteering with various political campaigns during the election cycle and being preoccupied with school. As a result, I had put off filling out my Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals application. In my mind there was no DACA after 2012 if the right candidate did not win the presidential election. However, I was encouraged by my mentor to apply immediately and was referred to Barbara Hines, a law professor and co-director of the immigration clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, to assist me in completing my application. Barbara and her students helped me complete my application and in January 2013, my application was approved. As a result, I got a Social Security number and a work permit.

Among many other things, DACA allowed me to apply for a driver's license and get on an airplane for the first time. I was also empowered to take that leap of faith into a world of cases, statutes and laws. Before DACA, I was running only half engine towards law school, because in Texas, you cannot sit for the bar exam unless you at minimum have employment authorization. With DACA, I knew that my legal education would be "worth it" since I could sit for the bar. Otherwise I would have a J.D. but be unable to, not of my own volition, take the bar exam.

With DACA, my engine ran on full steam and I successfully applied to law school. My desire to study law grew from an interest in public policy and my belief that there is Hispanic underrepresentation in the legal field. I hope to become either an immigration attorney with a focus on employment-based immigration or a prosecutor for my local municipality. There are no words to express my elation and gratitude for Barbara and for teachers who, through their public service, are making the lives of undocumented students like mine better. Barbara's work helped me live my dream of being a law student, because without my DACA I would not be where I am today. I would not be fulfilling my dreams.