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TheDream.US “DREAMers of the Week”

For Immediate Release: June 26, 2018

Contact: Nicky Vogt at 610-389-1314 and [email protected]

TheDream.US “DREAMers of the Week”

Washington, DC – TheDream.US, the nation’s largest college access and success program for undocumented immigrant youth, is providing weekly snapshots of TheDream.US-affiliated Scholars. These snapshots offer a powerful example why Congress passing legislation resolving the crisis facing DREAMers and TPS holders will be good for America.

From coast to coast and north to south, the Scholars’ stories are especially powerful and poignant as we have passed the March 5th deadline for legislative action that President Trump gave Congress when he announced the end of DACA. The continued inaction and uncertainty is affecting Scholars’ lives, health, and futures and threatens to keep Scholars from fulfilling their incredible potential.


Pamela Benitez of Hunter College:


Parts of my family’s story echo those of millions of immigrants over the years: the underpaid overworking jobs; the struggle to make ends meet; the chase for a false and nonexistent American dream.


My dad has a JD in Paraguay, but works in construction here in New York. My mom has a degree in pharmacy and biochemistry, but works as a domestic employee. Both my parents sacrificed their careers that they worked hard to obtain in order to come to America. It’s very heartbreaking to think about how they ended up doing the jobs they worked hard to escape from. We also have no family in the U.S. so it’s pretty lonely sometimes, making it difficult to not regret certain decisions.


…I am really open about my undocumented status and would like to encourage other, younger DREAMers that they can make it too. They should breathe deeply and know that it gets better. As long as they keep the fight going we are unstoppable.


Carlos Yanez of Arizona State University:


I imagine my story isn’t that different from the other 800,000 DREAMers. When we first came, we felt isolated – we didn’t know anyone, our family was back in Mexico, and we didn’t speak English. My parents, fearful of deportation, told me and my sister not to talk to anyone about our immigration status –  casting me further into the shadows.  


But, as my memories of Mexico started to fade, America became my home. I used to have vivid memories of my life, my home, and my friends in Mexico, but they’ve been replaced by my memories here. This is where my friends and family are, and this is where my future is.  


Aside from my parents’ anxieties, my childhood was peaceful. My parents were lucky enough to find jobs and provide for us. They sheltered me and my sisters. I didn’t realize until I was older how well-founded their fears were. At the time, Sheriff Arpaio was terrorizing our community and the Arizona legislature was passing a plethora of racist laws.  


Since we came to the States, I knew that I was “sin papeles,” but I didn’t know the weight of being undocumented. In high school, we started doing college prep work, and my friends started talking about where they wanted to go. They took college tours out of state and came back with stories of brick buildings with ivy and libraries with aged leather chairs to study in. My lack of a Social Security number, coupled with my parents’ fear of me traveling, left me feeling barred from the future that I dreamed about. It was a rude awakening.   


That wake-up call drove me into immigrant rights and social justice work. It makes my parents nervous – they’re worried the police will arrest me for protesting and speaking out about how this system has failed so many of us. I realize the risk, especially now, but this is my home and I want to fight to stay here.  


Edwin Herrera of Miami Dade College and Florida International University:  


I like the saying that he who gives a future to one person, gives a future to a thousand others. Through the sacrifices of my parents and this scholarship, I have a promising future. I want help give the same chance to others.


…I completed my associate’s degree in arts last year, and am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in landscape architecture. TheDream.US gave me this future and this opportunity and, now, I am equipping myself with the means to give a bright future to a thousand others. I plan to help support TheDream.US in any way I can, whether that means telling my story, making phone calls to prospective students, or simply leading by example. I want to reach my personal best in school and my professional life, but I also want to help others achieve the same.


Despite the obstacles and the challenges that are a direct result of being an immigrant, particularly an undocumented immigrant in this country, the payoff is always greater, and the good outweighs the bad. Remaining positive throughout my life has given me the direction and energy I need to forge my own path, together with the support of family, mentors, and, now, this scholarship.  

Despite several court-ordered injunctions keeping DACA renewal applications in place for the time being, TheDream.US strongly supports Congress passing legislation permanently resolving DREAMers’ status.

  • Read through a story bank of TheDream.US Scholars here  
  • Find out more about TheDream.US here