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In MA, OH, ND, NE, NM, TX, and Forbes: More Stories of America’s Dreamers

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The contributions of America’s Dreamers – and the uncertainty they face after Trump killed the DACA program – continue to be highlighted in media across the United States.  See below excerpts from Massachusetts, Ohio, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Texas, and Forbes magazine.

WBUR, Boston’s NPR affiliate, published a joint op-ed from four DACA recipients who are Harvard Medical School Students. Dalia Larios, Blanca Morales, Alma Oñate and Anthony Tucker-Bartley write:  

At the onset of our medical careers we made an oath to you, those who may one day stand before us as patients. The oath is simple: do no harm. With these words, we vowed to make decisions placing you first. We vowed to protect you from all forms of disease, including injustice. Today, we write to you as medical students with fears of our own. That’s because, in addition to being future doctors, we are undocumented Americans. The uncertainty surrounding our status has become magnified with the rescindment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

…With an impending decision from Congress, we ask you to reflect on the contributions we can make, but also remember our humanity … Most of our lives we have lived in an incredibly limited system where we have been grateful for all the opportunities that have come our way. In return, we ask to be valued for the good we have done and will do, to be treated with equality and respect, and to be recognized as the Americans we are and will continue to be.

Columbus Dispatch story, titled “The Dreams of Immigrants Brought in as Kids Still Hang in the Balance,” features reflections from local Dreamers and Ohio State University student Zakaria Farah:

“You feel like you’re a pawn in a larger game … It’s really hard to kind of watch your life be played with in the way it is.”

…young people such as Farah, an Ohio State University student who lives near campus, say it’s difficult to be optimistic after a life of uncertainty, partly because he doesn’t think members of Congress understand what living with DACA status is really like … “We don’t have a vote, we don’t have a say,” said Farah, who has met with elected officials in Washington twice in the past six months in an effort to help them understand his life. “Morally, I think people would be outraged if they fully understood the issue and internalized it,” he said, adding that he’s losing every right he’s fought so hard for the past five years, one by one.

…Farah, who was born in Germany but whose family is Somali, moved to the United States with his mother and siblings when he was 9. Farah said a paperwork mistake prevented his family from being able to become citizens and that the current immigration system doesn’t allow for a fix. If he leaves the country, he couldn’t come back to see his family for at least 10 years.

“I see talking heads on TV say, ‘Go back home and get in line and come back in the legal way,’” Liming said. “Under our current immigration system, there is not a way to do that.”

The Toledo Blade reports on the local Lucas County, OH county commission passing a resolution supporting Dreamers. The story quotes Will Bennett, a University of Toledo student who read a letter from his friend who fears potential deportation during the hearing.  Bennett said: “[canceling DACA and facing deportation] would send her to a foreign country she knows nothing about.  She’s about as attached to Colombia as one might be to preschool.

In the Bismarck Herald (ND), state Senator Tim Mathern writes of local Dreamer Grace:

She dreams of becoming a nurse to care for others. She graduated with perfect grades from West Fargo High School and has started college at the University of Jamestown to obtain her degree. The difference for Grace is that she was born outside the U.S., arriving as a toddler to be with her family. Now her life is in turmoil as she waits for Congress to determine her future and her fate … Grace is one of millions around the world we can help through correct public policy. Please join me in urging Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer not to deport 800,000 young people and to keep these dreams, and these DREAMers, alive. It benefits them and us!

In the Lincoln Journal-Star (NE), Nebraska Dreamer Amor Habbab-Mill writes a powerful op-ed:

I’m asking Rep. Jeff Fortenberry to act now to keep me — and more than 3,400 other young people in Nebraska with DACA — here in our home. Please support the bipartisan Dream Act and do everything in your power to make sure Congress passes it.

At Creighton University, I began to realize that Nebraska is where I’ve become who I am. Nebraska is my home. It’s where I met the man who recently became my husband and where we began our life together. I received DACA when I was eight months pregnant. It was probably the happiest day of my life. I felt like I could finally be fully part of this society. I immediately got a job as a legal assistant at an immigration law firm. I could finally plan a future. DACA allowed me to think bigger. My dream is to open a full-service immigration law firm. We would offer literacy programs and referrals for social services.

I’ve now applied for a green card through my husband, whose family is from California. But nothing is yet resolved. As long as I have DACA, I’m like every other person with DACA right now — afraid and depending on Congress to find a solution.

Esther Yu Hsi Lee and Victoria Fleischer, from ThinkProgress, reports on the tense and unnerving environment border community DACA-recipients live in:

Las Cruces, New Mexico has been the only home that Brandon Vasquez, a 20-year-old immigrant originally from Mexico, has known since he arrived in this border community at the age of two. Vasquez is on the verge of graduating with an associate’s degree in architecture, and in an ideal world, he would be polishing up his resume to apply for internships. Instead, he will spend the next four months preparing for a cascading series of events: job loss, the inability to graduate, and potential deportation.

In May, Vasquez will become fully undocumented without deportation protections and work authorization. At that time, his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals(DACA) status — originally a stop-gap executive action put in place by the Obama administration to force Congress to pass permanent immigration legislation — expires.

…Vasquez is going through similar emotions as the approximately 122 DACA recipients who have lost their status every day since September. But he’s also in the unique position of living roughly 45 miles north of the southern U.S. border where permanent interior checkpoints jut out west, north, and east through the only roads out of Las Cruces.

At these checkpoints, border agents can stop drivers to search for drugs and question them about their immigration status. Drivers or passengers can be detained and potentially put into deportation proceedings if they are found to be undocumented. Later this year, Vasquez won’t have his DACA status to grant him the ability to say he’s lawfully present in the country and pass through checkpoint into other parts of the United States.

The Daily Texan’s Maria Mendez tells the story of Yanelly, a fellow student. Yanelly, whose DACA expires soon, felt compelled to drop out of University of Texas-Austin after President Trump rescinded the program:

Yanelly’s DACA permit will be one of the first to expire after the Trump administration’s scheduled end for the policy on March 5, 2018. Without the legal protection DACA currently grants her, Yanelly would face deportation at this checkpoint. This means Yanelly, who is a freshman, would not be able to visit her family for at least four years if she had remained at UT-Austin once DACA was rescinded.

…. “There was times where I would just cry in my (dorm) room, thinking ‘Am I going to go back to UT-RGV (Rio Grande Valley) or stay here?’” Yanelly said. “It was like a waiting game.”

So, like most students, Yanelly went home for the holidays. But she didn’t come back to UT-Austin.

From her bedroom, Yanelly watched on Snapchat as her old roommate returned to their Jester dormitory and her friends said hello to UT’s Tower last week. Then, she headed to UT-RGV’s Brownsville campus, where she will now start her second semester of college and try to figure out the future of her dreams.

Writing in Forbes, Stuart Anderson recaps an interview with a Dreamer named Zion Dirgantara, who wants to give back to America by joining the U.S. military:

DACA has allowed me to fulfill my lifelong dream to become a soldier. I am very grateful to have the chance and privilege to join and enlist with the U.S. Army through the MAVNI [Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest] program. DACA allowed me to finish college. DACA allowed me to get a job. DACA allowed me to buy a car and have other basic day-to-day living needs in the U.S.

…I came to the U.S. in the summer of 2001, about 3 months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In fact, my first day of school in the U.S. was on 9/11, on that Tuesday morning … In 2014, the U.S. Army (MAVNI Program) announced that it would open recruitment to DACA recipients with special skills to join in an exchange for an earned path to U.S. citizenship. This was an easy to decision for me to join and enlist. It was my lifelong dream to become a soldier and become an American.

…America is my home. America is the land of opportunity. I have lived here for more than half of my life. I learned and understand the American culture, and its value of great work ethic, independence and equality, the idea that everyone is created equal. Yet very few countries in the world share our vision. Leaving the United States would leave me heartbroken. Staying in the U.S. and continuing with my military career would help me achieve my goals in life, and to build a better future for myself, my family and my country.