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Meet the Ohio Dreamers Conducting Sit-In At Rob Portman’s Office on Dream Act

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Today, eight Ohio Dreamers are conducting a sit-in at Sen. Rob Portman’s office in Washington, DC to demand that he support the Dream Act. 

Portman has never taken a strong stance on the Dream Act. In September of this year, he released a statement expressing agreement that “Congress should act” and that there should be “bipartisan efforts to find a permanent solution that will allow those in the DACA program to stay.”  Ohio Dreamers and advocates have been pushing him to be more clearly supportive of Dreamer legislation — and to meet with Dreamers, which he hasn’t done. Here are photos of some of the Dreamers with the letters they sent Portman asking for a meeting, and videos of today’s sit-in.

“Senator​ ​Portman,” one letter reads,​ “​I​ ​am​ ​writing​ ​to​ ​request​ ​a​ ​meeting​ ​with​ ​you​ ​so​ ​that​ ​you​ ​can​ ​learn​ ​first-hand​ ​about​ ​the lives​ ​of​ ​Dreamers​ ​in​ ​Ohio​ ​and​ ​why​ ​we​ ​need​ ​Congress​ ​to​ ​pass​ ​the​ ​Dream​ ​Act.”

Read the Dreamer letters to Portman here.

More than 4,400 DACA recipients live in Ohio, and some of them are already losing status every day.

Learn more about the Dreamers confronting Portman today, below:

Ariel Lopez came to the US as a baby, after his parents discovered that he had a serious form of eczema which needed treatment in the US. His parents obtained visas and brought Ariel to Ohio, but then had to overstay the visas when the visiting period expired before Ariel’s treatment was complete. Ariel is currently attending Cuyahoga Community College, earning an associate’s degree in business administration with aspirations to one day become an entrepreneur who participates in politics.

Jose Mendez came to the US when he was seven and now works as a security guard. As he recently said: ”I keep people safe. I have been here all my life, like the other dreamers. We have jobs, families, lives. We are your neighbors, your friends. We played by the rules.” He first applied for DACA in 2012, the same year it was announced. “I came out of the shadows and freely gave my information to the government because I trusted them…Let me tell you, I am not going back into the shadows.”

José Arnulfo Cabrera came to the US when he was four years old and has lived in Cincinnati ever since. Growing up, José Arnulfo was always going to rallies, marches, and meetings with his mother – all surrounding the rights of immigrants or workers. Initially, he found the rallies boring, until one day, he was “tricked” into telling his story and found the strength of sharing his own past. Today, José Arnulfo is a senior at Xavier University and the immigration program organizer at IJPC where he coordinates the YES program.

Heyra Avila is currently earning her Philosophy, Politics, and the Public degree at Xavier University in Cincinnati — while working as a mortgage loan officer. She previously worked in finance as a banker, and has also been a substitute teacher, medical interpreter, citizenship test educator, and Sunday School teacher. Writing and public speaking are her passion. She is determined to go to law school to study immigration law, and wants to be a published author for essays, poetry, and non-fiction.

Elvis Saldias grew up in rural, northwest Ohio and held many labor-intensive jobs in order to pay for college tuition and other expenses. When DACA was announced, Elvis filed on the day that USCIS began accepting applications and became one of the first Dreamers in Ohio to receive DACA status. He graduated from Ohio State University in 2015 with a degree in political science and currently works at the corporate level at Nationwide insurance.

Ulises Cruz came to the US when he was 14, and says that DACA has allowed him and his siblings to feel like they can achieve their goals and finally be part of the community they have lived in for more than a decade. As he said, DACA has helped them work toward “becoming homeowners, maintaining stable jobs and lives as well as contributing back to the community by paying taxes and plenty of volunteer work.” Without DACA, all of their efforts and goals will be changed.

Jessica Camacho is a well-known Dreamer and activist in Columbus, Ohio, who came to the US when she was five.

Sara Hamdi is a Dreamer in Englewood, Ohio — near Dayton — whose mom Fatiha currently faces deportation. Sara’s brother Sami has severe Down Syndrome and other chronic conditions which leave him unable to talk. If her mother is deported, Sara’s family is unsure who will provide Sami with all the care he needs. As she said recently, “We have been in the United States for 21 years trying to live the American Dream. What would you do, if someone was trying to take you from your family?”