As Senate begins debate, DREAMers share their stories
From profiles in the media to Pelosi's eight-hour speech, the names and faces, the individual struggles and triumphs of DREAMers are being highlighted prior to the Senate debate on immigration this week.
On Monday the Senate is starting to debate the future of the DACA program, and with it the future of the nearly 700,000 people currently benefiting from the program which shields them from deportation and allows them to work in the U.S.
DREAMers across the country are speaking out and telling their stories as they call on Congress to pass a clean DREAM act that would ensure their protected status and outline a clear path to citizenship.
In what might be the most complete, in-depth display of profiles of DACA recipients, the New York Times Editorial Board, as part of a direct call for Congress to pass DACA legislation, has highlighted the stories and thoughts of many current DACA recipients, putting not just a name and face, but a story to the young people whose lives have been shaped by the journey they made to come to the U.S. as children, and the 2012 introduction of the DACA program which allowed them to study, work, and build lives and careers in the U.S.
The over 100 testimonies compiled by the Times are powerful:
“Despite the hardships I have faced in this country– poverty, discouragement and alienation– I long to become a citizen one day, as this is the only country I have known," said Luis Gallardo of Los Angeles, CA.
And from Manuela Karim of San Antonio, TX:
"There is very little I would want more than to be able to witness the pending success of those individuals who come after me, in applying to DACA and following through with their academic and personal goals; as it is, DACA is inaccessible to many marginalized and financially disenfranchised folks, and as a community, we should be continuing the work needed to alleviate this, while pushing for the permanent stay of DACA as a policy. DACA provided me with the means to a future in this country, and it could give many more deserving young people a brilliant future as well.”
Other media outlets are also highlighting the voices of DACA recipients. In an op-ed for ABC News, Maria Praeli, a current DACA recipient who has been in the U.S. since she was five years old, had this to say:
“Dreamers like me are facing dire expiration dates. We cannot keep waiting, and we deserve to be treated better than pawns to needlessly cut level immigration to historically low levels that would devastate our economy. It makes no sense to shut the door on others who want to come take part of the American dream and serve our communities.
Our great nation is deserving of the many contributions that Dreamers like me provide. We have built a life full of memories in the United States and are just asking for the chance to continue to build those in the country we call home. Congress, the ball is in your court.”
Democratic lawmakers have been sharing stories of current DACA recipients in Congressional sessions and via social media. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave an eight-hour speech on the House floor on Wednesday in which she described not just the statistics about DACA recipients and what they’ve accomplished with the protection extended to them, but also gave voice to their thoughts and ideas. Pelosi enjoined Congress to act so that the current DACA recipients whose stories she shared can continue to build their lives in, and contribute to, the country they call home.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts recently tweeted out this video of Diana, a DACA recipient who is also a graduate of Harvard Divinity School:
Diana is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and her brother is a PhD student studying pancreatic cancer. They've both worked hard and played by the rules. We cannot tear apart families like Diana’s. We need to pass a #DreamActNow. pic.twitter.com/cVEj6lSvCR
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 6, 2018
As the immigration debate takes the floor in the Senate this week, the stories shared by politicians and highlighted in the media are one way DREAMers can have their voices heard, their faces seen and acknowledged, by the lawmakers who will be deciding their fate in the coming weeks.