White House: Moroccan Illegal Immigrant Honored as Champion of Change

Rabat- Kamal Essaheb, a young Moroccan who came to US as an illegal immigrant, has been recognized as a “Champion of Change” at a White House ceremony.In 1992, Karim Essaheb was brought to the United States as an 11-year-old child. He did not have legal status.Still, Kamal has become a success story in America, after applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program established by President Barack Obama to provide living and working status for undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. Karim said in an article in which he told his story that he had such humble ambitions when he was brought from Morocco to the land of freedom in 1992. “At the time, my brothers and I just hoped we would get to see Disneyland one day.”22 years later, Kamal’s determination and hard work have taken him much further than his humble ambitions, and landed him in the celebrated halls of the white house as 2014’s Champion of Change.In the years leading up to 2003, Kamal’s father has been working as a cab driver, while his mother was a homemaker. They worked in order to establish a modest life in Queens, NY.In 2003, the family’s residence in US was put in jeopardy. As a result, “my father, my brothers and I were required to report to our local Immigration and Naturalization Service office at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan, which we did,” Kamal said.  “We were all placed in removal proceedings,” he continues.A few months after the removal proceedings began, Kamal started at Fordham Law School in the Stein Scholars Program in Public Interest Law and Ethics, despite the legal turmoil his family faced.“Bewildered and overwhelmed by the events of the preceding months which had shattered the constancy and comfort of life as I had known it, I struggled for normalcy and continued to work towards my goals,” he said.After graduating from Fordham Law School, Kamal became a practicing immigration attorney at CUNY Citizenship Now, a nonprofit immigration legal services provider in New York City. Karim did not have legal status until he was granted it under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012.Today, he is a DACA recipient who works for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), where he engages in advocacy and technical assistance related to access to legal status for immigrants.“At NILC, his advocacy focuses on passage of the DREAM Act, implementation of DACA, and state and local enforcement of immigration law,” reads his profile on the While House website.This month, the Obama Administration recognized him and nine other young adults from Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and New Delhi as Champions of Change at a White House ceremony.