Six “DREAMers” protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program spoke at an event held at the Triune Mercy Center, sharing their stories in support of the Dream Act, an immigration reform bill authored by Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin.
According to a statement issued by Sen. Graham’s office, the Dream Act is designed to “allow immigrant students who grew up in the United States to earn lawful permanent residence and eventually American citizenship.” The bill is a bipartisan effort that comes in response to the Trump administration’s threat to abolish DACA, an executive action by the Obama administration.
Keny Murillo and Ilse Isidra, two of the speakers at the Triune Mercy Center event, expressed concern that they would be unable to practice medicine in South Carolina due to the current immigration policy. Murillo, who entered the country at age 9, is a fifth-year biology major at Furman University. Isidra is a nursing student at USC Upstate,
The two DACA beneficiaries believe the Dream Act offers a solution that finally allows immigrants like themselves to continue their studies and continue staying in the country as contributing members of society.
DACA has protected undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors from immediate deportation, providing them with the option of applying for renewable work permits and driver’s licenses to work and drive legally in the country.
The “Dream Act” is a legislative solution that preserves and extends the provisions under DACA, which currently exists at the discretion of the President.
“If DACA is revoked, that means all the students who applied for DACA all of a sudden now cannot legally work. In South Carolina, it means they can’t study at state colleges and universities, and they can also actually be deported,” said Will David from Ground Up Greenville, a group advocating fair and ethical treatment of all human beings.
The Dream Act, however, does not give grants away for free, as a high school diploma or a GED, competence in English communication and American history, as well as the intent to “pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military” are prerequisites to the grant. A clean criminal record is also a must.
The Dream Act, however, aims to go where DACA could not. While DACA only defers deportation by placing the protected individual as a low-priority target, it cannot promise that deportation will be postponed indefinitely. The proposed act, however, offers a viable way to citizenship for immigrants who qualify.
“They work so hard in school. They have so much more to contribute to South Carolina. South Carolina needs nurses. South Carolina needs doctors. We need these kids, and we need them to work. Not just for social justice reasons but also from an economic perspective,” says Sarah Montero-Buria from the Hispanic Alliance.
In June, the Department of Homeland Security announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), will be allowed to continue until further notice. But only time will tell the what President Trump will finally do with the thousands of young immigrants protected by DACA.
If you, or a loved one, are under DACA status and want to discuss your legal options should the worst happen, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm.