Eight local college students took part in a three-day event in Washington, D.C., speaking to elected officials in oan effort to allow so-called “Dreamers” to attain permanent immigration status.
The event, held from Oct. 3 to Oct. 5, included more than 100 recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, including students from Florida International University and Miami Dade College. On Sept. 5, the Trump administration moved to cancel the Obama-era program that kept undocumented young people – usually brought to this country at a young age – from being deported.
Ted Hutchinson, the Florida organizing director of FWD.us, led the “Dreamer Advocacy Day Fly-In” event, which included people from 25 different states. Its stated goal, according to the organization website, is to push Congress to pass a clean Dream Act bill which, unlike DACA, will grant them lawful permanent residency.
Lorena Malavet, 21, attends FIU and is majoring in public relations.
“The first night we got there, we all bonded very quickly,” she said. “It was such a relief to know that everyone around me was going through the same thing- even though we all had different stories, we shared the same struggle.”
The group met with staff members of the Florida Republican delegation, including Daniel Webster, Dennis Ross and Mario Diaz-Bart.
They also met directly with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, an FIU alum, and Rep. Brian Mast. Both are also Republicans.
“Ileana was extremely humble and very nice. She supported us,” Malovet said. “She made us feel comfortable and even gave us cafecitos.”
Still, the experience could be nerve-wracking.
“It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do. I shared my story with the world, I felt like I shared my darkest and deepest secret,” said FIU student Maria Moreno, 22.