NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Dreamers spoke out at Rutgers Tuesday. Lawmakers, community leaders, and immigration advocates joined them. Tearfully, they explained that their life in the U.S. is all they know.
“At the age of 1, I crossed the border with my mom,” said Yeimi Hernandez, 17.
She said the arduous journey to cross into the U.S. from Mexico resulted in her being separated from her mother. They were eventually reunited in Los Angeles and settled down in Freehold, New Jersey.
“I’ve lived there my whole life,” she said, through tears. “This is all I know.”
With news that Trump will end DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, her worst fears were realized. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Obama-era policy would be rescinded today at the Justice Department.
As a child, Hernandez recalls being bullied for her immigration status.
“I was told by someone else who was a year older than me that I would never become anything in my life,” she said.
But she remembers the words of her mother.
“She said you have to be strong,” translating her mother’s words from Spanish, “You are going to be someone in life.”
On Tuesday, other dreamers, religious leaders and lawmakers at Rutgers University joined her. Together, they are calling on Trump to preserve DACA.
Under DACA, which was enacted five years ago, nearly 800,000 young people have been able to get jobs, study at universities, and start families in the U.S.
Other dreamers shared their struggles of being unable to apply to certain colleges, apply for jobs, or get a license due to their legal status.
“I want to attend college,” said Hernandez, “I want to become something in life because that is why I’m here. I want to be an immigration attorney. And I don’t want this dream to be shattered because DACA is going to be repealed.”