Leticia Chavez represents everything that’s good about the CHRISTUS Health System. She cares deeply for her patients, treating them with dignity and compassion as she tends to them in our intensive care unit.
Like many of our patients, and tens of thousands of South Texas residents, Chavez wasn’t born in the United States. Her mother made the decision to move the family to the United States — illegally — before Leticia was even 2 years old. By age 3, Leticia was living in Tyler. She spent her whole childhood there. A bright student and a hard worker, Leticia was valedictorian of her Winona High School graduating class.
As someone without legal status, Leticia’s education could have ended on that high school stage. Getting federal student aid for college wasn’t possible. Undeterred, she enrolled in and received an associate’s degree in nursing from Tyler Junior College, paying her own way. The federal government created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, after Leticia’s graduation from the junior college. Leticia applied for DACA and used her new status to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler.
Before DACA, Leticia turned down several employment opportunities. After, she accepted her first real job. With her income comes new tax revenues flowing to the local, state, and federal government. Today, more than 90 percent of DACA recipients are employed or enrolled in school. All of these young men and women have been in the United States since at least 2007.
Leticia is uniquely compassionate, but like all of the immigrants we encounter in our hospitals, she’s devoted to her adopted country. Like Leticia, these men and women want to be able to take jobs, and work hard. They want to prove their value to the Texas and U.S. economies. Leticia eventually wants to go back to school so she can one day open her own medical clinic. Other immigrants have similar dreams.
By Dennis Gonzales for MY SAN ANTONIO
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