DACA beneficiary awaits future with faith, hope, and song

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

December 5, 2017

Carolina Imperial (NTC photo/Juan Guajardo)

FORT WORTH — For most of her life, Carolina Imperial considered herself a caged songbird. “I felt so tied up.”

In 1995, Imperial’s parents brought six-year-old Carolina and her three siblings to Fort Worth from Monterrey, Mexico, fearing the crime and violence that ultimately took her uncle’s life.

She grew aware of her undocumented status in high school, when her friends got driver’s permits and she couldn’t. A gifted singer, she won several state competitions but did not have identification to travel to national competitions. And after graduating from North Crowley High School, she couldn’t work or attend college.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order, signed in 2012, was “everything I had been waiting for my whole life.” She was able to learn to drive, to work, and to pay taxes.

One of those jobs was as the cantor at a Catholic church in Grand Prairie. Imperial’s mother taught her the basics of Christianity, but the family didn’t attend church. Although she had sung at countless weddings and quinceañaras, she experienced a “more powerful feeling” each time she sang the Mass parts and hymns.

After asking many questions and attending RCIA, Imperial was ready to join the Catholic Church. She insisted on Baptism by full immersion, because “I want to give myself fully to God.”

As a DACA beneficiary, Imperial has signed with a talent agency, singing music from mariachi to pop, making commercials, and doing voiceover work. Part of her earnings help support her parents.

Imperial understood that DACA wasn’t permanent, so when she heard the order was rescinded, she knew she would “really rely on my faith.” She is optimistic that a permanent solution will be made law, even if it doesn’t include a path to citizenship.

The 28-year-old said, “I will follow rules, wait, and have faith. And I keep singing no matter the situation, because that is a talent given to me by God. God works in amazing ways. I can’t doubt what my plan is.”

Imperial knows other DACA beneficiaries, and explained, “This is our home. We are proud of our roots and our traditions, but if you cut us, we bleed red, white, and blue.”

FORT WORTH — For most of her life, Carolina Imperial considered herself a caged songbird. “I felt so tied up.”

Published (until 12/5/2030)