Father’s Day: proud dads and Dreamers

Lending Circles clients' Edgar and Gustavo's journey to bring their family together

On Sunday, families of all shapes and sizes across the country will come together to celebrate and honor the fathers they love.

At MAF, we took the opportunity to reconnect with Edgar and Gustavo, MAF clients whose journey captures so much of what’s being celebrated during this full month of June: fatherhood, LGBTQ Pride, and the five-year anniversary of the 2012 passage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Stuck in the shadows

Edgar and Gustavo both moved to the United States as young children. They entered without papers and lived undocumented throughout their childhood and adolescence. Like so many of the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States, hard work was never enough. They both graduated from high school with honors, but without legal status they couldn’t access the student loans or federal financial student aid they needed to afford tuition.

Being undocumented also meant Edgar was separated from his children. Without an official ID, he couldn’t travel by plane, which meant he couldn’t visit his two young sons, Benjamin and Gabriel, who were living in Florida. It was devastating not to be there for formative years of his children’s lives.

Lending Circles for DREAMers

Five years ago this month, the Obama Administration launched a new program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), to provide work permits and protection from deportation to certain undocumented young people who had entered the United States before the age of 16.

Through friends and the SF LGBT Center, one of MAF’s earliest nonprofit partners, Edgar and Gustavo learned about MAF’s Lending Circles for Dreamers program. They joined a circle and started making monthly loan payments to build credit scores for the first time and cover the cost of applying for DACA, which this year rose to $495.

The journey wasn’t easy. It took two years of patience and perseverance. But finally, Edgar and Gustavo both received news that their applications had been approved. With their DACA permits, they received Social Security Numbers, Driver’s Licenses, and work permits. Once they were able to travel freely, they were able to reunite their family, taking turns visiting the boys in Florida and hosting them for summers in San Francisco.

A Family Reunited

Gustavo now works as a Personal Banker at Wells Fargo where he is adored by his clients. Edgar, who dreamed as a child of becoming an architect or designer, now works at a high-end interior design showroom in San Francisco. He delights in working with architects and designers like himself to help them realize their visions.

With Father’s Day around the corner, we asked Edgar what advice he would share with other parents:

He said simply,

“Time flies. Hold your kids as much as you can.”

And he described the values he hopes to impart:

“I always tell my boys, ‘Be humble.’ I want them to know that they will have victories as well as defeats. I want them to pursue passions and to take everything life can give them, while always giving back.”

Adina Hemley-Bronstein Adina is MAF's Communications Associate.