Irene, 24, works at the same restaurant as Ronnie and knows the difficulties of becoming a citizen. Her family and friends' legal problems taught her that there's only one solution: a lawyer.

"There are so many different laws concerning immigration; there's a lawyer that I talk to whenever any family or friends have questions." Off the top of her head, she listed three or four different laws regarding immigration for families. "It used to be that if a child was born in the United States, the child and the mother would become citizens. Now, a child has to become the age of an adult before they can claim their parents as dependents and for them to become citizens."

When asked about taxes, Irene recommended that illegal immigrants do them so that they can be used later as documentation to establish length of residency. "There are numbers that begin 'zero, zero, zero,' "she explained, "that are given and used in place of Social Security numbers."

Irene said that these numbers are what children need to use when registering for school. "As an adult," Irene clarified, "institutions like community colleges won't turn you away because you're not a citizen. These 'zero, zero, zero' numbers can be used for formal documents requiring a Social Security number."

Now in her third year of college, Irene dreams of working in Spanish television as an actress. She plans to move to Los Angeles, where her fiancé lives, after she earns her degree.

When I asked Willy what he dreams of, he laughed. "I work too much to have time to dream," he said. "I want my children to go to school. I don't want them to work with their hands. But if they do, that's fine, too."


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