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‘Dreamers’ celebrate graduation despite DACA uncertainty

NASHVILLE — On the day after Donald Trump was elected president, Jacob Maldonado sat in a Chipotle restaurant with his best friend, Maria Campos, and wondered aloud.

“Is it worth it?” asked Maldonado, who had been working days and studying nights to get through Trevecca Nazarene University, where both were juniors.


They knew the political winds were shifting; they might not make it to graduation before the new administration ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, the status that protected them from deportation and gave them access to driver’s licenses and work permits that, in turn, helped make it possible for them to pay for college.

“I just don’t know,” answered Campos. And they cried together.

Eighteen months later, Maldonado, now 22, walked across the stage at Boone Convocation Center, where the small, private college’s graduation had been moved from the outdoors due to a steady drizzle over Nashville.

That same day, the hashtag #undocugrad began trending on Twitter all over the country as DACA students and in robes and mortarboards shared photos of tearful joy and hugs.


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