Posted by on June 03, 2014 in Blog

By Emily Cooke 
Summer Intern, 2014

When an eleven year old Kamal Essaheb immigrated to the United States from Morocco in 1992, his aspirations were decidedly humble, “my brothers and I just hoped we would get to see Disneyland one day.” Today, 22 years later, Kamal’s extraordinary efforts have carried him far beyond a California theme park, and have landed him in the illustrious halls of the White House as a Champion of Change

Kamal, alongside his parents and younger twin brothers, left Casablanca in pursuit of a life in “the land of freedom.” While the hallowed “land of the free”, accepted Kamal and his family as they established a modest life in Queens, NY, their residence in the US was put in jeopardy in 2003 when Kamal, his father, and two brothers were required to report to their local Immigration and Naturalization Service Office as part of the post-9/11 special registration program known as NSEERS.

Kamal began attending Fordham Law School as an undocumented immigrant, where he pursued Public Interest Law and Ethics despite the fact this he was facing a likely deportation. The precarious nature of Kamal’s immigration status, however, did not stifle his remarkable determination to enact positive change, and bred in him a passion to reform the very system that was threatening his future in the United States.

Upon graduation, Kamal became an attorney at CUNY Citizenship Now, a nonprofit immigration service provider in New York. Kamal now works for a leading organization advocating for comprehensive reform, the National Immigration Law Center. Kamal’s passion for reforming the United States’ immigration system is deeply personal and his contributions have already impacted the lives of immigrants facing the same challenges his family did.

Kamal finally became a legal resident of the United States when he was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012.

22 years ago, Kamal Essaheb and his family sought a life in the land of freedom, and today Kamal does not simply live in this land, he actively shapes it. Kamal’s recognition as a Champion of Change did not end on Tuesday when he was recognized in a White House ceremony, rather his accomplishments are a lasting reminder of how immigrants positively shape the United States, the land of the free.