DENVER -- Five Dreamers from Colorado traveled to Washington D.C. this week, to lobby Congress on the urgent need to pass the Dream Act.
“We’re here on this trip to make sure our congressional delegation hears from us directly,” said Marco Dorado, “about what it means, and what’s at stake for individuals like us.”
The Colorado Dreamers were among nearly 150 from across the U.S. who were in the nation’s capital seeking clarity about their future.
FWD.us, an immigration advocacy group started and funded by leaders of the tech industry, sponsored the trip.
The group's Colorado organizer, Kaytia King, told Denver7 they support sensible border security, fixing a broken visa system and establishing a pathway to citizenship.
To learn more about the organization, click here: https://www.fwd.us/
Dorado said that before President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) came into existence, there was not a path forward for him to achieve his goals. He said he lived his life in the shadows.
“I didn’t even tell my high school counselor that I was undocumented,” he said, “out of fear.”
Dorado is now a business operations manager at the Latino Leadership Institute.
“Once Deferred Action was announced,” he said, “the trajectory of my life changed completely. I was able to get a driver’s license, graduate and get a job where I was using my degree.”
He also said he pays rent and taxes.
It’s the same for Marissa Molina.
She told Denver7 that because of her (undocumented) status, she has faced numerous challenges. Among them, missing her grandfather’s funeral.
“My grandfather was an amazing role model,” she said. “I learned to serve my community from him.”
She said she did not go to his funeral because she worried she that she would not be allowed back in, if she traveled out of the U.S.
“He was there for me in the most important moments of my life,” she said, “and at that last moment of his life, I wasn’t there for him. It's something to this day that is hard to talk about."
Molina is now manager of community engagement at Rocky Mountain Prep.
She also teaches Spanish for Native Speakers at the Denver School of Science and Technology.
She said when President Trump announced, in early September, that he was phasing out DACA, many of her students, who have the same status she does, asked, “what’s going to happen to me?”
“I didn’t have an answer,” she said. “Now, I can go back confidently to Colorado and say, ‘we are working on a solution. We are working to make sure that you live out your dreams, in the same way that I’ve been able to live out mine.’”
King said there are 17,000 Dreamers in Colorado and nearly 800,000 across the U.S.
She said if DACA ends, hundreds of thousands of workers would disappear from the nation’s economy, resulting in a $460 billion loss in national GDP over the next decade.
Today (Thursday) marked the final deadline for DACA renewals. It was the last day that anyone could apply for a work permit and deportation protection under this program.
“These DACA recipients – who, on average, came to this country at the age of 6 and are now 26-years old – face an uncertain future, and live with the fear of being ripped out of their jobs and community,” said FWD.us President Todd Schulte. “There are only two paths forward: either Congress can act now and pass urgent legislation like the Dream Act, or our nation will be responsible for forcing 800,000 out of their jobs, subjecting them to immediate deportation, and using the very information they gave to the government in good faith to find, arrest and deport them.”
"We had someone come from Telluride who is a domestic abuse victims advocate," King said. "Who is going to be helping survivors if she has to leave?"
Schulte said that’s why it was important for members of Congress to hear from the Dreamers directly.
There are reports that the White House will demand immigration cuts and/or increased enforcement and possibly funding for a wall, in exchange for its support of a DACA fix.
Democrats and some Republicans will take issue with that.
Unless Congress acts, 1,400 Dreamers a day will begin losing their status on March 6.