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Kaine calls for immediate action on DREAM Act, shares stories of Virginia Dreamers

tim kaineToday on the Senate floor, Sen. Tim Kaine called on Congress to immediately pass the bipartisan DREAM Act and shared stories of DACA recipients—known as DREAMers—from across Virginia.

In September, President Trump announced his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed Dreamers to live, work and study in their communities without fear of deportation.

In his speech, Kaine highlighted the value Dreamers bring to Virginia:  “These families are law-abiding, tax paying, hardworking setting example kind of families. And you find them serving in the military and starting businesses and succeeding like these young people are who I’ve described. So this is a season where we have a lot on our plate. We’ve got budgetary issues. We’ve got the CHIP insurance program for kids. We have a lot on our plate between now and when we adjourn for the holidays at the end of the month. But this is an issue we can solve.”

 

DREAMers

Gloria Oduyoye from Williamsburg, William and Mary Law School student
First the story of Gloria Oduyoye. Gloria is a child of parents who are Nigerian. She was born in England and her parents brought her to the United States when she was one year old. Her dad is a doctor and came to practice medicine and work on a work visa, but then her dad became ill and could no longer work and then the work visa expired as a result, and Gloria then became undocumented when her father’s visa expired. Gloria was not aware that she was undocumented until she was about to start college, and her parents then had to tell her the full story. But Gloria is a remarkable, remarkable young woman. She went to Wesleyan college on a scholarship and graduated, and then she enrolled at William and Mary Law School. And Gloria is scheduled to graduate this month from William and Mary Law School. When she does, she will be the first DACA student to get a law degree in Virginia and only the fourth DACA recipient in the United States to get a law degree. And she is bound and determined. She says, “I am going to be the first undocumented student to get a law degree in Virginia, and I’m going to be the first undocumented lawyer in Virginia, and I’m going to be the first undocumented judge in  Virginia.”…

Andreas Magnusson from Richmond
Andreas Magnusson. Andreas is from Richmond – he has an unusual story. Andreas is Swedish. Swedish-born music producer and mixer. His parents brought him to the United States when he was two years old. This is the only home he’s ever known. His career in the music industry has blossomed in the United States where with his first band he sold over 50,000 records and has toured the United States and other countries. Currently, he works out of his house in Richmond – where I live – and he has a recording studio, and he has sold a combined 1.5 million records through the span of his youthful music career. The United States is his home. Richmond is his home. It is where his career is and it’s where his family lives. His mother, his stepfather, and his two half-brothers are all American citizens. Andreas, Swedish-born, is a Dreamer…”

Bruno (Mel) Cardosa from Hampton
Bruno Cardosa, and her friends call her Mel, is from Hampton, Virginia, in the Tidewater area. She works on children and family services. She is a DACA recipient and her whole goal is to use her education to do social work. She’d also like to combine that with a future degree in law to help immigrants like herself. She works for a nonprofit that focuses upon mental health needs. I think we all know how significant mental health needs are in the country. Many people have never been diagnosed, or if they get diagnosed, they don’t get treatment. So this is an important issue, and the important organization she works for helps people make sure they can find the financial support they need to access mental health care that they need. Before she worked with this family services agency, she formed a coalition called I-CAUSE to help undocumented students be able to afford higher education. She has received numerous scholarships, honors, and awards that have allowed her to pursue her higher education, and specifically she was a recipient of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to go get her social work degree. With her academic success and her passion to help others, Bruno is exactly the kind of Virginian we like to celebrate because she is a person of accomplishment who is taking her own skills and not just benefitting herself but benefiting others. That’s as Virginian, American, a value as there is.”

Giancarla Rojas from Falls Church, Radford University graduate
The fourth student I will mention is Giancarla Rojas. She came to America a decade ago to be reunited with her parents who she had not seen for seven years. In an article, The Washington Post highlighted her particular story – Giancarla said that she spoke only Spanish when she came here and the way she and her father perfected their English was by riding in the car and singing Beatles songs and Chicago songs. Now, Senator Cotton is too young to remember the band Chicago. This is an old, geezer-style band. It is interesting to think of somebody from Central America coming and deciding with their dad that they will listen and sing to geezer rock on the radio as a way of learning English. I don’t think the Beatles gave her an English accent by the way, but it did teach her to speak English quite well…She’s made a passion of assisting others to do what she has done, to learn English, to prepare for citizenship tests. She was prompted to advocate for Dreamers when a school counselor told her, “sorry for you, college isn’t an option because you will have to pay out -off state tuition.” And her family couldn’t afford it. Instead, when the counselor told her that, she decided to join a lawsuit and the lawsuit led to Virginia offering in-state tuition to those living here and paying taxes and succeeding like Giancarla. So she maintained her high GPA. She earned admission to Radford University, a wonderful university in Southwestern Virginia. She was the first Dreamer accepted at Radford and she was given a full scholarship and she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in International Economics in May of 2016. She is determined and committed to serving her community just like the other 13.5,000 Dreamers in Virginia.”

 
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