Washington, DC – Later today, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the “American Dream and Promise Act,” legislation that would provide DREAMers with the opportunity to become American citizens.
In advance of the vote, two TheDream.US Scholars and current National College Attainment Network (NCAN) Advocacy Fellows, Erika and Yami, share details about their background and goals and highlight why it’s “long past due for a permanent solution” for DREAMers. Their stories are just two of thousands of examples of TheDream.US Scholars whose contributions and potential make the case for why our country would be strengthened by delivering citizenship to DREAMers.
TheDream.US Scholars and current NCAN Advocacy Fellows Erika and Yami write:
“My name is Erika, and I came to the US from El Salvador when I was four years old and I grew up in Miami, Florida. My name is Yami and I immigrated from Mexico when I was five years old, Georgia is home to me. And this is our story.
Erika: Growing up in Miami, Florida, was wonderful, although my high school years were a bit difficult. I went to a predominantly Cuban school where I was one of three students from El Salvador. My high school counselor was bashful about my status – she was reluctant to talk about it and would whisper when I would go to her office for help. I felt like I was alone in the process of going to college. Despite the less than helpful support, I knew that I would find a way to go to college in my heart.
I heard about TheDream.US Scholarship, and one day, I spent hours looking through the scholarship website learning what I needed to do to apply. I got the scholarship and first went to Miami Dade College and graduated with my associate’s degree in Journalism, and now I am a senior at Florida International University finishing my Broadcast and Journalism degree. I aspire to be a journalist and tell the stories of people like myself who find themselves sometimes with a story but with no medium to tell it.
Yami: For me, I also enjoyed growing up in the United States, and my family, after living in California for some time, decided to move to Georgia and move to the outskirts of Atlanta. In high school, my senior year, I learned to use my voice and share my story with others to bring about change. I had wonderful teachers that advocated for me and looked for ways for me to go to college. They searched for specific scholarships for undocumented students and pushed me to dream and think big. I applied for TheDream.US Opportunity Scholarship and obtained it. Despite living in a locked-out restrictive state where people like me are banned from even attending some of our 4-year universities, I found a way to go to college. I decided to attend Eastern Connecticut State University to study Political Science and Sociology. My dream is to be an attorney one day and defend vulnerable individuals.
Though our stories have differences, we both were met with the harsh realities that our undocumented status limited our options and opportunities. Nevertheless, we both have persisted and committed to sharing our stories and, hopefully, empowering Congress to do the right thing for our country.
We are long past due for a permanent solution for the 1.7 million young people, like ourselves, who contribute to our vibrant communities every day and call the United States of America home.”
Last week, Gaby Pacheco, Director of Advocacy, Communications and Development for TheDream.US, authored an op-ed in the Miami Herald. Titled, “It’s time to give undocumented DREAMers the certainty of American citizenship,” the op-ed noted that, “Despite important breakthroughs over the past decade, DREAMers still are not able to plan their futures in the United States with full confidence” and “It’s time to finally deliver legislation that makes DREAMers full citizens, whose futures are no longer subject to the whims of individual judges. The United States will only be made stronger by settling this issue once and for all.”
TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college and career success program for immigrant youth, having provided more than 6,500 college scholarships to DREAMers attending over 75 partner colleges in 19 states and Washington, DC. We believe that all young Americans, regardless of where they were born, should have the opportunity to get a college education and pursue a meaningful career that contributes to our country’s future.