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While Eneida and Ranferi lived in Atlanta, they rented an apartment and both had steady jobs. In Arizona, home was a rundown two-bedroom apartment they shared with the kids, two uncles, and Bailón's grandmother in Central Phoenix.
After reintroductions, they took the kids to a dollar store. It was the biggest store Bailón had ever been in. The fascination continued.
"Me and my brother were so happy because we thought it was the biggest store in the world," he said. "The next day, they took us to the supermarket, so you can imagine how I felt!"
As Bailón describes it, it took him six years, but he finally had come home.
Learning to speak English was the first of many hurdles Bailón faced growing up. Like many others, he was placed in an English-learners class and had to focus on the language as much as he did on the actual subjects that were being taught. He overcame this first obstacle quickly, and by the time he was 15, he knew English almost as well as he did Spanish.
Always a dedicated student, Bailón graduated high school with honors and was able to secure a scholarship to Phoenix College. It was 2005, a year before the passage of Proposition 300. The Arizona law, which passed with an overwhelming majority, prevents any student who cannot prove his or her lawful immigration status from getting any state or federal aid or in-state tuition.
Without his scholarship and facing paying out-of-state tuition, Bailón had to abandon his dreams of higher education. Enraged by the situation, he decided to join several organizations that fought for immigration rights and worked for the passage of the DREAM Act.
Introduced in 2001, the DREAM Act represented hope for young undocumented immigrants. It allowed a quick pathway to citizenship for people who had arrived in the country as kids, had never been arrested, and wanted to pursue a college degree. Bailón is one of the 50,000 potential DREAMers in Arizona.
The decision to come out and announce his immigration status was an easy one, he says, once he no longer had access to a scholarship and he realized that, just like him, there were thousands of undocumented young people who could not attend school.
"Of course you get scared," he says. "You can go back to a country different than what you're used to."
This fear, however, has never stopped Bailón in his quest to better the lives of undocumented students all over the country.
Like many others, Bailón has applied for President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The "mini-DREAM Act" gives people two-year work permits and, in some instances, access to in-state tuition for college. To qualify for DACA, applicants must have arrived in the United States. before they were 16 years old, be currently enrolled in school, be a veteran or have graduated from high school, and they must have not been convicted of a felony. The average wait time to receive news about DACA is six months.
So far, only 1 percent of applications have been denied. Arizona has had more than 16,000 applications, and 10,000 have been approved. The rest are still pending. Almost 97 percent of those applicants were born in Mexico, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
In Arizona, being a DACA recipient will not mean in-state tuition in the three public universities, but it's a different story in any of the Maricopa Community Colleges. These schools have chosen to accept DACA certification as proof of lawful stay in the country. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne disagrees and in March filed a lawsuit against the district, which is pending.
Bailón, who plans to re-enroll at Phoenix College if he gets DACA certification, is waiting to hear back about his application. In the meantime, he works as a waiter in a Japanese restaurant in Scottsdale.
"I work independently," he says. "Anything to get by until I get Deferred Action. Then I can go back to school."
In February 2010, Mo'Nique went on stage to receive the Oscar for her role in Precious. It was a Sunday. At his home in Phoenix, Bailón was glued to the screen. Tears pooled around his eyes as he watched the actress thank her husband for his unwavering support and company. That night, alone in his room, Bailón wondered who he would thank if he were ever in that position.
On Monday, he decided he no longer could live a lie. The next day finally would be the day he told the world who he was. The world, back then, was his parents.
On Tuesday morning, he left home early in the morning and went to his acting classes. As the day wore on, his anxiety increased. He put off going home for as long as he could, but at 6 p.m. he could not wait any longer. His parents sat in the living room engrossed in the TV. He paced in the hallway and gave himself 30 more minutes to make up his mind.
"I have until 8," he told himself, and then, "I have until 8:30." Finally it was, "It has to be at 9."
I hope AZ loses the super bowl 2015 in Glendale,
IS Super bowl a BUSINESS? are football players coming out of the closet?
Take the super bowl somewhere else, AZ is too small minded , too back words.
They will never be progressive .
What does he want? a medal? Oh just a free pass to citizenship and all the benefits he didn't earn. Sale!
Just read the piece today, if you re going to make negative comments please go somewhere else, I just can't imagine the hardship of going through all this, as a parent and a Hispanic myself I was very touched with this story, it's ridiculous to think about deportation when this is his home country, he didn't choose to come here, very easy to turn your head the other way but it is harder when you put a face in the issue, I really hope there's a positive outcome for Dagoberto, I really wish him the best. Great article!
I am sick of the intolerance and hatred that is perpetrated in Arizona by religious causes anchored in our legislature. It's time that we all got together and took care of the bullies on the playground...
Don't forget kiddies, you can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. Vote democrat the first chance you get for a tolerant Arizona.
WELL IF YOU WOULD GET OFF THE COMPUTER EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE AND GO TO WORK...THEIRE WOULD 'NT BE A NEED TOO FILL YOUR JOB NOW WOULD THEIR.
First, Mexico send us the illegals who take their checks and send them to Mexico.
Now, they send us their queers too.
Thanks, and God Bless. I know some pretty awful hetros, why are they any better than the alternative lifers? Let everyone not hurt anyone, but maintain law and order, period!
There are a lot of sickos on this site. Its the ILLEGAL part that's the crime, dummies. What do you care what he does behind doors, sickos!
seriously? undocumented is enough for me, ship it home. "come out twice?" I'd settle for get out, once.
"My name is Dagoberto Bailón, and today I choose to come out of the closet as an undocumented man and a gay man."
Turn the dogs loose.
"... if you re going to make negative comments please go somewhere else..." Golly Pop, in your bigoted world, can people only make comments that YOU agree with?
@dkessler4 In the meantime, kiddies, if you're feeling a little ashamed of the fact that your lawless parents smuggled you across the border a good remedy for your woes would be to man up and return to home. That way NO ONE can accuse you of being an document-challenged euphemism!
@mrh0202201091 You must have gone to school in Arizona. You don't know where the caps lock is and you can't spell...
@mrh0202201091 Yep that is funny how they can take the spotlight off what they themselves are doing.And i thought freedom of the press in the constitution meant fair and balanced coverage. Not side with one segment of the community over the other.
@jerseypeer everybody is entitled to their own lifestyle, as long as it doesnt hurt anyone. it may not be the lifestyle for me, but then again my lifestyle isnt what they prefer either. good for you for taking the high road
A six-year old is not a six-year old forever. Hopefully that child matures a little as the years go by and realizes that his parents broke the law to misappropriate a life in America that was meant for someone else - someone with ethics, skills and respect.
@lisalisanoneya @coachwkr1 The Reality is. That many migrants are threatened to be killed if They do not comply with the demands of kidnappers.And unfortunately sometimes that means torture for them and there Familys.WHILE MANY HERE ARE LAUGHING AND THINKING THIS IS A GAME. IT is not a game to those that know the truth.
@dkessler4 And you can't spam repeatedly without looking as pathetic as you do dkessler...
@mrh0202201091 Anybody that wants to can stop the hatred and intolerance in the legislature in Arizona that characterizes mrh0202201091. Get all the kids together and lets thump the bullies.
Remember you can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ. Vote democratic for a more tolerant Arizona where everyone including our legislature and the attorney general have to obey the law.