One hundred and forty-seven days. That’s how long it’s been since Donald Trump cruelly ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This left at least 800,000 immigrant youth, also known as Dreamers, at risk of deportation.
Since then, GOP politicians and the Trump administration have blocked multiple attempts to pass a clean Dream Act. As they push their hateful agenda — rooted in racism and xenophobia — hundreds of thousands of immigrant youth are forced into limbo.
But they’re fighting back. For months, demonstrators have been storming Capitol Hill and calling on their lawmakers to pass a clean Dream Act. Today, as Donald Trump gives his State of the Union address, he’ll have to face more than two dozen Dreamers in attendance.
Trump has the microphone today — but the rest of 2018 belongs to us. Not convinced? Meagan, Koralie, Rainy, Miriam, Victoria, and Cheska — six badass young Planned Parenthood supporters — explain the importance of passing a clean Dream Act and reclaiming our rights in 2018.
Cheska was six years old when she arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines with her mom and siblings. She had a visa when she arrived — but after her family encountered hardship at the peak of the Great Recession, she lost her status and became undocumented.
“For over six years, we didn't really seek a lot of help because of fear of being deported. We didn't know the protocols of ICE,” says Cheska, referring to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
She found out that she was eligible for DACA in 2015. Since then, she has been able to support her family, work on a 2016 election campaign, and earn a scholarship to college. Her activism in reproductive rights and immigration took root on campus, where she recently organized a school panel discussion on DACA.
“I volunteer with immigrant rights groups FWD.us and United We Dream. I’m also organizing at my school. I formed an immigrant and refugee club to educate my fellow classmates on what [immigration] policies mean,” she says.
Meagan has a mantra: “No human is illegal.“ As a program director at Make the Road Pennsylvania, she works with immigrants and fights for for legislation that will protect immigrant youth.
“We must pass a clean Dream Act in order to make it loud and clear that we will not stand for unjust, immoral acts by the government,” she says. “This has to end, and end with a pathway to citizenship for my undocumented sisters and brothers.”
As a first-generation immigrant, Meagan is documented — but many of her loved ones are not.
“I am genuinely afraid of who the president will try to get rid of next: my mother? My father? Who else will we allow to be threatened?”
The Trump administration refuses to acknowledge that immigrants enrich and strengthen our country — but Koralie, whose parents are Haitian — understands this well. She says her heritage gives her a unique perspective on things, for example when Trump ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Sudan.
“Being an immigrant in the U.S. is not always easy,” Barrau said. “Because of natural disasters like [the 2010 Haiti earthquake], immigrants with TPS might not be able to go back to their countries.”
Koralie says she plans on speaking up and taking action in 2018 — and that she’s motivated to do so like never before. As an aspiring journalist, Koralie says she wants to use her skills to lift the stories of immigrants and communities targeted by bigotry.
“I’m currently working on a documentary about remittances in Haiti,” Koralie says. “It goes without saying that Haiti is a poverty-stricken country, but the people are strong and resilient, no matter the daunting challenges they face.”
Victoria is a fearless advocate for immigrant youth. In fact, she's traveled to Washington, D.C. to stand with other DACA recipients and demand that lawmakers pass a clean Dream Act. Thanks to DACA, Victoria was able to pursue an education and expand her professional horizons. She's doing everything she can to keep fighting for her rights.
Since the Trump administration ended DACA, Rainy has felt as if “there is a sense of security missing from our lives.” But she’s not about to let that reality dictate her life.
To that end, Rainy has become an advocate for a clean Dream Act and other immigrant youth. She says they’re tired of the uncertain future.
“It’s time. We’ve waited long enough and worked hard enough. It’s the right thing to do, the moral thing to do,” she says.
Miriam has called this country home from when she was just eight years old. Years later, she's built a life and career here alongside her son and husband. But each day Congress fails to pass the Dream Act, her future is put in jeopardy.
"It's not just my family who's in danger of being torn apart — millions of immigrants' lives hang in the balance," she says. "If Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell don't pass the Dream Act before the March 5 deadline, deportations will separate so many people from their families, including me."
How you can be an ally
Change starts with YOU. Tell your lawmakers to pass a clean #DreamActNow.
Plus, here’s here’s a roundup of organizations that fight for immigrant rights.
Haiti Advocacy Working Group (HAWG)