AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — For many, the American dream is hard to come by when you are not a natural-born citizen.
One Amarillo man is changing that stigma by working to achieve it and helping other immigrants obtain it.
Though he was born in Mexico, Julio Salazar has only ever known life in the United States.
“My parents actually came to the country when I was a year old they immigrated illegally, unfortunately,” Julio Salazar, immigrant and local activist, stated.
One morning Salazar’s father left for work and never returned.
“He got picked up during a raid. it was a really scary feeling felt kind of alone,” Salazar said.
His mother left to her brothers funeral in Juarez Mexico and was not allowed to return.
At 16, Salazar had to jump headfirst into adulthood.
“It was a little bit scary when you realize that all of these responsibilities are now landing on me,” Salazar explained.
While still in school Salazar had to learn to pay bills, work, maintain his home, and all while still going to school.
Currently, its been eight years since he has seen his father. They only speak through phone calls.
“It’s not the same. I can’t go visit him and yeah he can give you some advice but it’s not the same of being able to sit down with him and have dinner.” Salazar stated.
At 18 years old Salazar applied for DACA.
“The program allowed me to apply for social security and a temporary work permit. So that I can continue going to school and pay bills,” Salazar said.
Now, a pre-med student, Salazar dedicates his time helping fellow dreamers.
“I try to help as many people apply for legal aid or get some form of legal status,” Salazar stated.
He believes situations like his can affect everyone.
” This is a situation that is affecting people that are your neighbors, your friends, possibly family members you just may not know their legal status,” Salazar said.
Salazar goes to Washington about two times a year to speak with representatives to voice his concerns.
He also collaborates with local organizations to hold DACA clinics to help people get legal representation.