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Cincinnati, OH – Following yet another court ruling against the Trump Administration’s handling of its decision to end the DACA program, The New York Times is out with a must-read piece about the movement created by young immigrants – commonly known as “Dreamers” – and how they continue to organize for change in the only country they call home. Well-known immigrant activist Heyra Avila from the Cincinnati area is quoted in the piece.
Back in September, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement about ending DACA, Heyra stood up at a Cincinnati rally and announced she would continue to fight for a recognized and permanent place in America, not only for her, but for other undocumented immigrants. The Times reports:
Heyra Avila, 22, who arrived in the United States from Mexico at the age of 4, donned a T-shirt emblazoned with “Here to Stay” and joined a DACA rally in Cincinnati outside the office of Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio.
She was feeling defiant.
“No matter what the administration says and does, I am going to keep fighting for justice for thousands of immigrants here in the United States,” said Ms. Avila, who is a paralegal in Florence, Ky. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Heyra and her family were also featured in a powerful Cincinnati Magazine piece late last year, which gives a deeper look into the lives of undocumented immigrants in America today:
Driving without a license is one of the biggest risks for an undocumented immigrant. An infraction as small as a speeding ticket or a missing tail-light has the potential to lead to deportation. In order to work, though, many have to drive. Like her parents, Heyra drove without a license as a teenager to her job at a Mexican restaurant. Unlike her parents, though, she has openly shared her story since she was a student at Ryle High School. “I didn’t have a problem with telling people that I wasn’t a citizen,” Heyra says. “I thought, ‘Maybe I’m the only one they’ll ever interact with knowingly, the only immigrant that they might hear their story.’”
In 2012, Heyra was granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which allowed her to obtain a driver’s license and work permit temporarily, though it did not provide her with full legal status. She is what’s commonly referred to as a “Dreamer,” a child brought to the U.S. by her parents. (The name stems from the DREAM Act, a long-gestating bill aimed at aiding undocumented children that has never been passed by Congress.)
On September 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the DACA program would end in six months. Days later, Heyra, who measures maybe five feet tall standing on a milk crate, says she wasn’t shocked. “I knew that it ending would always be a possibility,” she says.
“I actually cried when they announced that,” says Gabriela. “But once I saw that my daughter was out there and fighting and still hopeful, that gave me hope.”
“Heyra’s brave public voice and tireless activism have made her a nationally-respected leader in the immigrant rights movement,” said Lynn Tramonte, Director of America’s Voice Ohio. “Her passion for helping people and challenging all of us to live up to America’s promise are exactly the attributes we should welcome and embrace in America.”