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Tennessee Dreamers Rally for DACA Outside Mike Pence Dinner

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In Tennessee this week, 200 Dreamers and advocates rallied outside a Mike Pence fundraiser with state Republicans, calling on the officials to protect Dreamers from deportation and save DACA.

Tennessee, via its Attorney General Herbert Slatery, is one of the ten states threatening to sue the Trump Administration unless it ends DACA within the next month. Some 8,300 Tennesseans are recipients of DACA, and it’s estimated that they pay $21 million every year in state and local taxes. Yet the state has been inflexible with how it treats its own immigrant youth — state Republicans voted down an in-state tuition proposal in April, meaning that Dreamers in the state must pay steep out-of-state rates for college tuition (even though they grew up in Tennessee).

One Dreamer who attended yesterday’s protest was Jose “Luis” Pedraza, who recently wrote a guest column in the Tennessean asking Slatery to reconsider his attack on Dreamers and immigrants. Another was Alondra Gomez, a Dreamer who used DACA to complete a medical assistant program and now works at a local health clinic. She begins a four-year honors program at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga this month. As she said of DACA:

When I received that work permit, my life changed… I could finally do something bigger, something better with my life. DACA allowed me the privilege of making a real difference in my community.

Yesterday’s protest was organized by the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. View some of their photos and videos below.