A to Z

NAU runner sets record for Guatemala, finishes 12th in Olympic final

By: - August 6, 2021 3:37 pm

Public domain image

Luis Grijalva, the Northern Arizona University long-distance runner who almost could not travel to compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo because he lacks an immigration status in the U.S., is now a record-setting Olympian. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Luis Miguel Grijalva (@luisgrijalva_)

Grijalva left Guatemala when he was an infant and migrated to the U.S. He grew up in California and has a temporary employment benefit and some protections from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA is available to some undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country prior to 2012 and before turning 16. 

One of those protections is that its beneficiaries, often called dreamers, can travel outside the U.S. and return under special circumstances through a permit called advanced parole. The process to obtain advanced parole usually takes about three months, but Grijalva needed it expedited after he was named to the Guatemalan Olympic team. A few days before he had to travel to Japan, the federal government granted him the permission to travel and return

On Friday morning, Grijalva finished 12th in the final race, setting a new 5,000-meter record for Guatemala with a 13:10.09 time. 

Earlier this week, Grijalva qualified for the final race in the 5,000 meters competition, which made him the first Guatemalan to ever make a track and field final in the Olympic Games, according to Let’sRun.com

On Friday, other DACA recipients, like Arizona’s Reyna Montoya, and advocates celebrated Grijalva’s achievement as a win for immigrant communities in the US too. 

The DACA program faced termination under the Trump Administration and several lawsuits, and unfilled promises over the years of Congressional action to give certainty to generations of dreamers and their families.

A federal judge in Texas in July blocked the federal government from considering new applications for DACA, leaving thousands of young dreamers without the protections their older peers enjoy. 

A proposal in Congress has stalled in Senate budget talks but would give DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Laura Gómez
Laura Gómez

Reporter Laura Gómez Rodriguez covers state politics and immigration for the Arizona Mirror. She was named Best Investigative Reporter by Phoenix Magazine in its 2018 newspaper category and has been honored by the Arizona Press Club for education, immigration, political, and public safety reporting and Spanish-language news and feature reporting. Laura worked for The Arizona Republic and La Voz Arizona for four years, covering city government, economic development, immigration, politics and trade. In 2017, Laura traveled the length of the U.S.-Mexico border for “The Wall,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning project produced by The Arizona Republic and USA Today Network. She is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and lived in Puerto Rico and Boston before moving to Phoenix in 2014. Catch her researching travel deals, feasting on mariscos or playing soccer.

MORE FROM AUTHOR