At Penn State, it’s not uncommon to meet people from all corners of the world, including from countries in Latin America, the Middle East, Eastern Asia and Europe. These students are our friends, our roommates and our classmates. But what if VALLEY told you that some of these students were at risk of being deported because, when they were young, their parents brought them to the United States as undocumented immigrants? Now, these students are at risk of being removed from the U.S., the only country they know as home. These are the DREAMers.
DREAMers, as they are referred to, were brought to the U.S. when they were young, from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Many of whom didn’t even know they were undocumented until they applied for a driver’s license or to college.
“DREAMers are American in every sense of the word except on paper,” says Jorge Zurita-Coronado, president of the Latino Caucus. “They teach in our schools, they serve in our military, they work in our business, they are our classmates, and our neighbors.”
In June 2012, President Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows undocumented immigrants to be eligible for a renewable deferred action from deportation, allowing them to legally work in the U.S. and remain within the country.
In order to be eligible, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before they were 16 years of age; must have lived in the U.S. since before June 15, 2007; they are currently enrolled in school; have graduated or have been honorably discharged from the military; and have no felony conviction or present themselves as a threat to the community.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration has set the deadline for DACA to March 5, 2018, which will affect over 690,000 immigrant youth who are currently DACA recipients and even millions of DREAMers who are not enrolled yet.
On February 28 at 5 p.m., Penn State students stood in front of the Allen Street Gates in order to raise awareness and encourage students and community members to contact their representatives to protect the immigrant community and pass a Clean DREAM Act.
“We want to show Glenn Thompson and many of our representatives that we need a solution to DACA,” Zurita-Coronado says. “By standing here we hope that DACA students that are within our community know that they are not alone in their fight.”
A group of students ranging from a multitude of organizations, including Latino Caucus, Comunidad Andina y Amigos, Colombian American Student Association and Penn State Cubaniches joined together to advocate for a Clean DREAM Act. They stood at the Allen Street Gates and held up signs, chanted and inspired passersby to sign petitions.
Zurita-Coronado says, “While we may not see them or know someone personally that is a DREAMer, they are among us. Penn Staters must stand up and fight for the right of our peers to have the opportunity to finish their degree and live without the fear of deportation.”