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PA Dreamers and Lancaster Ed Board Call for Swift Action from Congressional Reps & Senators

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Last week, we highlighted support for Dreamers across Ohio in reaction to Trump’s devastating decision to end DACA.  This week, we bring you three op-eds from Lancaster, PA-area Dreamers, plus an editorial in support.

Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

There are Dreamers in every congressional district across the country. The Dream Act is now must-pass, emergency legislation affecting hundreds of thousands of young people in America.  Americans overwhelmingly support it.  Now we need our members of Congress—Republican and Democrat—to do their jobs and act.

Dreamer Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra, the statewide capacity building coordinator for the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, writes:

After my father died, I immigrated to the United States with my mother and sisters from the Dominican Republic when I was just 11. I worked hard to master the English language, and by senior year, I was taking advanced placement courses at Franklin & Marshall College. I became the first Latino student council president at Hempfield High School, and I led the school’s Model United Nations. With hard work, perseverance, and the support of countless individuals, I attended HACC before transferring to Amherst College in Massachusetts.

With the “legislative battle of and for our lives is now underway,” he continues, it’s time for Congress to pass a “permanent legislation solution that provides a clear pathway toward citizenship.”  Gonzalez Sierra also asks where his congressional representative, Rep. Lloyd Smucker, stands on the Dream Act and lays down some markers for the coming debate:

Although “Dreamers” like me yearn for Congress to create a path to citizenship for us, we do not want our futures to become bargaining chips in a political negotiation that ultimately exonerates us at the expense of the continued persecution of our parents, increased funding for enforcement, or militarization of the border.

Augustina Drot de Gourville, a part-time student and bilingual legal assistant, talks about the transformative impact DACA has had on her life.  She writes: “Before DACA, I had nothing — just an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) that I used to file taxes. But that was all, which leads me to the first common misconception: Yes, ‘Dreamers’ actually file taxes!”

Drot de Gourville goes on to describe how America truly is her home:

Many of [us Dreamers] came when [we] were infants or toddlers. This country is all we know. We grew up as your neighbors, going to your schools, graduating and now becoming active members of this society. Now, as young adults, we are your fellow co-workers, striving for the best and not taking anything for granted as we work hard for what we have. This is our country; it’s where we belong, and stripping DACA away from us is dismantling everything we have worked so hard to build these past five years.

She finishes with the reminder:

I am not asking for any handouts, nor do I need them. All I am asking for is to be respected and valued as an individual, because at the end of the day, we are all human beings, and no one should feel less of a person for not having the opportunity to gain legal status. DACA recipient, “Dreamer,” “undocumented,” “illegal” — those words should not define who I am as a person. I am more than a piece of paper, and this is why I refuse to hide in the shadows and remain silent any longer. I speak out because I want to be viewed as an individual who has contributed to this society and wishes to continue to do so without fear of being abruptly uprooted from everything I know — from the place I call home.

Finally, Roer Avila-Dival, a McCaskey High School student, brings the perspective of a current high school student to bear.  He writes:

The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program has become an important part of my life. It not only protected me from deportation but it let me feel equal among my peers.  Being a DACA recipient made me acknowledge the fact that my dreams are feasible and just as important as those of my classmates.

Jumping off from these individual perspectives, the editorial board of LNP, the Lancaster County daily newspaper, issued an editorial in support of Dreamers and swift congressional action, titled “For the sake of the  US economy, and for the young immigrants whose lives are now on hold, Congress must pass ‘Dreamers’ legislation.”

The editorial rightly points out that Trump’s “offer of a six-month window for Congress to act before DACA is rescinded … is not enough time. It’s an arbitrary and unreasonable deadline that leaves DACA recipients understandably nervous — pushed ‘back into fear,’ as Avila-Vidal writes today.

“But if ever there’s an issue on which there can be bipartisan agreement, we hope it’s this one,” the editorial board continues.

The editorial ends:

Congress needs to act — and quickly.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has decried the end of DACA, but surely will vote for a permanent fix to the program. Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey has expressed support for a legislative solution, too. So, too, has Republican Congressman Lloyd Smucker of Lancaster County.

Smucker was supportive of young immigrants who lacked legal status when he was in the state Senate. In an August meeting with the LNP Editorial Board, he said he was “glad to hear the president say that he hopes we can work something out for the DACA kids.”

It’s up to Smucker and his colleagues in Congress now. We hope he leads on this. For the sake of Roger Avila-Vidal, Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra and Agustina Drot de Gourville. And all the so-called “Dreamers” whose dreams now are in peril.