COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The historic Century Tree is where Karumi Duran, fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2018, was proposed to by her boyfriend and fellow Aggie Robert Reyes.
The two are now married, have a 1-year-old daughter, have built a life in Tyler, and still have both sets of parents living in Bryan-College Station.
But Duran's entire life was torn from her earlier this year, when she was told she was no longer welcome in the United States.
Duran’s family moved to College Station from Mexico just as Duran had turned eight years old. As Duran has worked with the legal process to become an American citizen, she made a trip to Juarez, Mexico this spring in order to fulfill some legal matters with the government there.
“My understanding [now] is, I wasn’t supposed to leave the U.S., because DACA doesn’t permit me to come back unless I get an advanced parole," Duran said. "... which I didn’t ask for, because I didn’t know I needed to grab that permission.”
The office of United States Congressman Pete Sessions [R-TX] has decided to take up for Duran’s case.
“So I had to cut through the red tape and go to Washington and the department of the state, and say that I’m going to advocate on behalf of this woman," said Sessions. "But what I need for her before I advocate for her, is [for her] to go through the hearing process.”
Sessions was able to achieve humanitarian parole for Duran, who reunited with her family this week in College Station, after months of being apart.
“It was really hard," Duran recalled. "Because you come in one day and you just – you can’t come back to everything you knew. It hurts a lot. It hurt that I couldn’t see my baby anymore.”
Both Sessions and Duran have expressed a desire to see change in our the country's laws regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA].
“If it were up to me, I would create an immediate guest worker plan allowing every single one of these people to have a complete legal status, where they could create for themselves their new idea of the American dream," Sessions said.
“Right now our President and congress are kind of focusing on what’s going on in the border with people coming in and out, but in reality, we have to kind of start thinking about those families who have been here longer," Duran said.
There is still much to be done to help Duran obtain citizenship, which Sessions is helping to do.
One loose end that still needs to be tied up is getting Duran back her Texas A&M class ring. The ring is being held for safekeeping by a loved one in Mexico City, who held on to it as Duran had worked on her American citizenship status in Juarez.
A long journey lies ahead for this Aggie.
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