In a small, modest single-story house in Windsor, four siblings brought illegally to the United States as children have spent many years with their faces buried in schoolbooks preparing for a vague future, studying calculus, psychology, history and stock markets.
Their evening studies often were conducted on a coffee table in the living room, under the watchful gaze of their parents and the constant clucking of chickens strutting outside in the dirt driveway.
Last month that future became much clearer for Rosalba Rivera, 18, and her brother Marcos, 17, when they joined the nearly 200,000 young undocumented immigrants granted a temporary reprieve from deportation through an immigration program ordered by President Barack Obama last summer. Rosalba's twin sister, Melina, and their oldest sibling, Adriana, 19, are on track to get the same opportunity.
Now, although they are neither citizens nor legal permanent residents, they are no longer “illegal.” At least for now, they've been given the opportunity to legally work, drive cars, pay taxes and go to school.
And their buoyed aspirations reflect the hopes and expectations of millions of other illegal immigrants who could benefit from current efforts to overhaul the nation's immigration laws.
Melina said that when her sister received her federal work authorization card in the mail, the real possibility of one day being fully “legal” began to take root.
“When my sister got it, I felt like, oh my God, this is really happening,” she said. “It's a step closer to being a legal resident here.”