On Thursday, November 9th, USG student organizations hosted a panel titled “United We Dream”. There was a USG student who spoke about her experience being a DACA recipient and her struggles since the recent DACA decision was made. The panel also introduced several professionals that included state delegates, community advocates, and immigration attorneys to speak about their views on the current situation.
The purpose of the event was to spread awareness of the issues immigrants face today. The panel introduced ways we can get involved in the fight, to protect people from being deported from this country.
What is DACA?
DACA stands for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It was introduced by Obama back in 2012 to protect eligible immigrant youth that entered the country when they were children, from deportation. It gives immigrant youth protection from deportation and a work permit.
Why is DACA important for immigrants?
Emely Garcia, a student at UMBC and a DACA recipient shared her story during the event. When she was very young, she moved to the United States with her family. As she grew up, she began wondering why she can’t visit El Salvador, her home country. As it turns out, her family was worried that if Emely were to travel abroad, she would not be able to return home. When Obama passed the DACA policy in 2012, Emely was able to obtain a social security number and a work permit.
Emely has built a life of her own in the United States, and now that the DACA policy is on the line, she is worried about her future. Being a DACA recipient means that Emely can continue her life in the country that she calls home.
How did I react to the panel?
Being an official US citizen, I wasn’t entirely aware of the situations many immigrants face today. I was moved by Emely’s speech and felt that there needs to be some change. With the information I was given I feel a strong will to help these people in need, in any way that I can. I can start by spreading the word.
What can YOU do to support immigrants?
With immigrants being harassed by ICE, it is up to non-immigrant citizens to help protect them. There are many ways you can help make a difference:
- Check on people for mental support – you might not know it, but people in your community may be affected by the recent changes to DACA. Try to reach out to them and ask if they need support
- Start a fund – if you have any money lying around, start a fund to help
- Volunteer – check out different ways you can volunteer. There are centers for immigrant resources – maybe you can volunteer your time to help out there
- Stay informed – do what you can to stay up to date on the current DACA situation. This will help you gain perspective on immigrants’ struggles
There are resources available to immigrants in Montgomery County:
The Literacy Council of Montgomery County has English classes for adults
The Charles W. Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center has different centers in Montgomery County, for supporting the growing number of immigrants in Montgomery County. The various centers offer free English classes and computer classes to adult immigrants.
The Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy also offers free English classes for adult immigrants.