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At U.S. Senate Hearing, Powerful Reminders Why Dreamers’ Citizenship Would Be Good for the Nation


For Immediate Release: May 9, 2024

Contact: Michael Earls at [email protected] 

At U.S. Senate Hearing, Powerful Reminders Why Dreamers’ Citizenship Would Be Good for the Nation

Gaby Pacheco Testimony and NBC News Coverage of Sign-On Letter From 1,636 TheDream.US Scholars and Alumni Among Many Powerful Components of Hearing

Washington, DC – Yesterday, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing  “Dream Deferred: The Urgent Need to Protect Immigrant Youth,” TheDream.US President & CEO Gaby Pacheco was one of the featured witnesses (watch her testimony here) calling on lawmakers to expand opportunities and deliver an overdue fix providing Dreamers a way to become legal American citizens. Pacheco’s testimony, excerpted below, was just one of the powerful components of the day.

Ahead of the hearing, 1,636 TheDream.US Scholars and Alumni signed onto a letter of support calling on lawmakers to “give us an opportunity. What we want is the chance to legalize our status so that all of us Dreamers, with and without DACA and TPS, can become full-fledged American citizens.” The sign-on letter, available here, was covered in an exclusive by NBC News by Nicole Acevedo, “Dreamers urge for protections in Senate hearing on immigrant youth” (excerpted below).

One of the letter signers was Yair Lopez Vallejo, a current TheDream.US Scholar at Wingate University majoring in Finance who has lived in the U.S. since the age of one. Yair noted, “As a Dreamer, I know the realities of what many of my peers and I face, including financial difficulties affording higher education, anxiety about our future, and the worry of not being seen as individuals beyond our immigration status. Because of this, I strive to fight for the support of citizenship for Dreamers, to ensure my undocumented peers and I can live a life without fear and to live a life where we can continue to pursue our dreams without barriers or limitations.”

Arizona State University President Michael Crow also submitted written testimony ahead of the Senate hearing (available here) that noted: “The importance of a college education, the ability to work and a stable immigration policy are all reasons to renew the push for a Dream Act … The importance of doing so cannot be understated.”

Below find excerpts from Nicole Acevedo’s NBC News story, “Dreamers urge for protections in Senate hearing on immigrant youth:”

“The occasion has prompted 1,636 scholars and alumni of TheDream.US, an organization helping DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrant youths known as Dreamers go to college, to sign a letter urging Congress to “provide us with the opportunity to pursue a path to U.S. citizenship naturalization … Such action will provide certainty to our families and communities and strengthen our nation’s economy by ensuring the future of a vital, vibrant workforce,’ the letter, first shared with NBC News, reads.

…Irving Hernandez, 20, one of the hundreds of TheDream.US scholars and alumni who signed the organization’s letter to Congress, is among those who have been shut out of DACA in recent years. A junior at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Hernandez is studying health psychology and aspires to have a career helping people dealing with anxiety, depression, trauma and other mental health challenges. ‘I want to be such a huge catalyst for change,’ he said. Hernandez said he wants lawmakers to ‘give Dreamers the opportunity to succeed…’”

Below, find key excerpts from the written testimony of Gaby Pacheco, President & CEO of TheDream.US, as prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee. The full version of Pacheco’s prepared testimony is available at the hearing link, HERE.

“The last time I stood before this committee was over a decade ago. A decade! Ten years ago, I was just a young woman with a voice and a dream; I was undocumented and had just received DACA. Today, I stand before you as a proud naturalized United States citizen, representing not just my own journey but the hopes and aspirations of millions like me—dreamers who, despite the challenges we face, continue to believe in America’s promise.

…I will never forget the day of my citizenship ceremony, standing alongside 60 immigrants from 21 countries, reciting the Oath of Allegiance with tears in my eyes, knowing that I was finally recognized as a fellow American. It was a moment of profound gratitude and humility, a testament to the enduring spirit of justice and opportunity of this nation. Yet amidst this appreciation was my humble recognition of how lucky I was; for the vast majority of the Dreamers in America, they don’t have a similar opportunity.

…More than 4,000 of our Scholars are now college graduates, and 94% of those with DACA and TPS are working. Two thirds are in business, health and medicine, and education … despite their achievements, their talents, and their deeply embedded roots and lives in the U.S., the futures of TheDream.US Scholars and all Dreamers hang in the balance, their dreams deferred by political gridlock and bureaucratic inertia.

…This is not just a policy issue—it’s a profound moral test of whether we hold true to the ideals we so proudly proclaim. It is about the kind of nation we want to be: one that empowers the best and brightest within its nation or one that squanders potential in favor of inaction.

… As I once walked 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate my dedication and love for this country, today, I stand before you, asking you to walk alongside us in a journey towards fairness and recognition. Let us not wait for history to judge our actions but let us be the leaders who pave the way for a brighter future.

I urge you, with the utmost respect and urgency, to pass legislation that aligns with our American ideals. For the teachers, nurses, engineers, psychologists, police officers, for all the thousands of capable, committed young people in our nation, allow for all of them to fully contribute to the nation we all dearly love and to which they belong, not just with their taxes and labor, but as recognized, respected, and legal Americans.” 

  • Link to Gaby Pacheco testimony at Senate Judiciary Committee (here) and full video of testimony (here)
  • Read the NBC News article on TheDream.US sign-on letter and yesterday’s hearing (here)

About TheDream.US

TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for undocumented immigrant students, having provided more than 10,000 college scholarships to Dreamers attending over 80 partner colleges in 21 states and Washington, DC. We believe everyone, regardless of where they were born, should have equitable access to a college education, a meaningful career, and opportunities to contribute to the communities they call home. For more information on TheDream.US, visit www.thedream.us