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ICYMI: “A Teacher, Therapist, and Pastor: How DACA Recipients Are Serving Their Texas Neighbors”

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As New UT/Texas Tribune Poll Finds 2:1 Opposition Among Texans to Deporting Dreamers; Dallas Morning News Lifts Up Three Examples of Why Dreamers Benefit America 

Austin, TX – As a new poll from the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune finds two-to-one opposition (59-30%) among Texans to the idea of deporting Dreamers, the Dallas Morning News lifts up the stories of three Dreamers from Texas who have used their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to better their communities, Texas, and America. The stories offer a reminder of why Congress needs to do its job and pass the Dream Act before the end of the year.

Below, find excerpts from the story from the Dallas Morning News, “A teacher, therapist and pastor: How DACA recipients are serving their Texas neighbors

In a Youtube video, Juan Ríos and other family children take a dive into the Cuatrociénagas lagoon in Coahuila, Mexico.

Now 25, Ríos barely recognizes himself in that video, a relic from 1994 ferreted out by his cousin. Juan was blond and small.

It was filmed months before the whole family emigrated to Dallas.

“I’ve always wanted to know Mexico, where I come from. My father tells me different stories, but I don’t recall anything,” Ríos said.

Many immigrants who were children when brought to the U.S. have hazy memories, or no memories at all, of the places where they were born. Now they’re faced with the possibility that they’ll have to go back.

At the Mi Casa de Oración ministry in East Dallas, Ríos explains that, “I come here to reassure those who live in fear.”

Ríos has preached at Mi Casa every Sunday since 2013. He also preaches on Tuesdays at Good Samaritan Methodist Church in Oak Cliff.

“Many members here are undocumented,” he said. “Most come from families without a father, where drug or alcohol abuse is rife. They’re young people in great need of guidance.”


Stephanie López, 23, watched her youngest brother grow up with epilepsy and encephalopathy. The latter left him with a speech disability. Realizing how difficult it was to find a bilingual therapist for him, López soon had a clear idea of what she wanted to do in life: work with special kids.

“My brother is 15, but in his mind he’s like 5. He is just learning to put complete sentences together. That motivated me to be bilingual and learn sign language,” said López, donning a nurse uniform at HABLA Speech Therapy in Mesquite, where she works.

“Now, I can communicate with deaf-mute people and I have 12 patients, whom I visit at home. All of them are Hispanic children with autism, Down syndrome and hearing disabilities.”

López is a speech-language pathologist, a profession she studied at University of North Texas thanks to DACA and her parents.


Irazema Rodriguez dreamed of being a teacher even back when she was a young volunteer at an elementary school. Now she teaches “everything” to a group of second-grade Hispanic low-income children in a Pleasant Grove school.

“Sometimes I get to school and pinch myself — I still can’t believe it’s real,” said the 23-year old mother of a 2-year old boy. She graduated from Arlington University in May with an interdisciplinary studies degree.

“I teach reading, writing, social studies and science in Spanish and math in English” to 7- and 8-year-olds, she said.

Many come from Mexico and El Salvador, but they’re most familiar with American culture.

“They have to learn about the American symbols, our values and traditions. But some things about their home countries, too,” she said.

Rodriguez remembers the day her mother left for Texas.

“They told me she just went to the grocery store. But she never came back,” she said. “I was clueless. We spent like a month without her before a friend of hers could bring me and my sister here.”

She was 5 when she left her home state of Durango, Mexico.