Amid Border Crisis, White House To Welcome DACA Immigrants

The White House will be welcoming undocumented immigrants shielded from deportation by the president’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program Tuesday even as the policy has precipitated a crisis on the southern border as tens of thousands of children stream across with hopes of amnesty.

In an announcement the White House communications office said it will be honoring “Champions of Change,” who are also DACA recipients. 

“These Champions distinguished themselves through their community involvement and the hard work they put into helping other members of their academic and professional communities succeed,” the announcement reads. “This event will showcase these inspirational young leaders and highlight the importance of providing talented young people with the opportunity to realize their full potential.” 

The event comes as unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors, many from Central America, are coming across the border in droves amid violence and poverty in their home counties as well as rumors that they will be given a free pass into America. 

Some lawmakers have pointed to DACA as part of the fuel for the current humanitarian crisis. 

“This increase of migrant children is due in large part to your decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This decision to give children who have been brought to this country by their parents a special status was done without the consent of Congress and is not authorized by law. Furthermore, it has caused the rise of rumors throughout Central America that if parents send their children to United States they will be allowed to stay,” Michigan Republican Rep. Candice Miller wrote this week.

The ten undocumented immigrants, many from Mexico, will be heading to the White House Tuesday as lawmakers call on Obama to send a clear message that DACA is not available to new arrivals. 

List of attendees via the White House: 

Hector Salamanca Arroyo, Des Moines, IA

Hector was born in Mexico and is currently a junior at Drake University. He has committed himself to service and advocacy to create social change. He serves as an inspirational speaker to Latino youth and meets regularly with policy makers to advance immigration reform and the DREAM Act. For his hard work, involvement, and valuable contributions in the Des Moines community, Hector was awarded the Emerging Latino Leader Scholarship Award by the Iowa League of United Latin American Citizens. Hector did not know until he was in high school that he was living in the U.S. without documentation. He has since been able to obtain DACA, allowing him to continue his education and community work. He has become a leader and organizer among other DREAMers and young undocumented students in central Iowa. Currently, he serves as a youth development professional at the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa.

Steven Arteaga, Houston, TX

Steven was born in Mexico City and he is a DACA recipient. After learning about the Civil Rights Movement in high school and reading about the marches, protests, and rallies people organized in hopes of advancing justice and dignity for all, a desire to do something similar for the immigrant community sparked in him.  After obtaining DACA status in 2013, he began working at Mi Familia Vota (MFV), which has allowed him to empower and engage members of his community to continue to bring about positive social change.

Sarahi Espinoza, East Palo Alto, CA

Sarahi is a DACA recipient who came to the United States from Mexico as young child. Due to difficult family circumstances, Sarahi was forced to drop out of school. Today, Sarahi is re-enrolled in community college and started her own website Sarahi.tv that she built to help educate her community about scholarship opportunities available to them.  Sarahi works for the Girl Scouts of America and hopes to continue to inspire young students to finish their education and reach their goals.

Kamal Essaheb, Washington D.C.

Kamal was born in Morocco is a DACA recipient who works for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) where he engages in advocacy and technical assistance related to access to legal status for immigrants. At NILC, his advocacy focuses on passage of the DREAM Act, implementation of DACA, and state and local enforcement of immigration law. Prior to joining NILC, Kamal was a practicing immigration attorney at CUNY Citizenship Now, a nonprofit immigration legal services provider in New York City. He is a graduate of Fordham Law School, where he was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. Kamal emigrated from Morocco at a young age and is fluent in Arabic.

Pratishtha Khanna, Laurel, MD

Pratishtha was born in New Delhi, India and is a DACA recipient.  She migrated to the United States at age 10.  She is currently a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and will graduate in May with a BS in Biology. She is an active member of the API Youth Convening-DACA Collaborative planning committee and the Maryland Dream Youth Committee (MDYC). She is also a member of Dreamers for DREAMers student organization at UMBC. After graduation, Pratishtha will be working (thanks to DACA) as an Emergency room medical scribe and will pursue a Certified Nursing Assistant Program at Howard Community College.  She hopes to attend medical school in Fall 2017.

Esther Yu Hsi Lee, Washington D.C.

Esther and her two older siblings were brought with their parents to California from Taiwan in 1988. Prior to receiving DACA, she worked as a nanny, Mandarin tutor, and occasional housekeeper in New York City. Currently, she is working in Washington, D.C. as an immigration reporter for the online publication ThinkProgress (affiliated with the Center for American Progress), working to bring awareness to immigration news happening around the country and to highlight personal stories of undocumented immigrants.

Anahi Mendoza, Santa Maria, CA

Anahi was born in Mexico and, is a recipient of DACA, and is a rising senior at Harvard University concentrating in Social Studies with a focus field in U.S. Immigration Policy and Social Change. Anahi’s passion for immigration reform began in high school when she founded a Dream Club to help undocumented students apply to college and continued while at Harvard where she served as the director of Act on a Dream, a student organization dedicated to advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and providing resources to undocumented students at the college and throughout the nation.

Dayana Elvira Torres, Arlington, VA

Dayana is a campus leader and was recently selected to be the incoming President of Mason Dreamers. She’s involved with DREAMers of Virginia who worked closely with Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring to help push for Virginia in-state tuition for undocumented students. She works to build coalitions amongst a diverse set of stakeholders in the immigrant movement and is very involved in campus organizing. Last summer, Dayana lobbied Congress for comprehensive immigration reform and is currently working on a range of initiatives. She moved here from Columbia in 2003 when she was 9 years old. She graduated high school in 2012 and was recognized as a National Hispanic Recognition Scholar by the College Board.

Rhustie Marcelo Valdizno, Clifton, NJ

Rhustie is a DACA recipient who was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States when he was 15 years old. He is an active member and core leader at RAISE (what does this stand for), where he advocates for humane immigration policies through sharing his experiences of being undocumented. Rhustie currently resides in New Jersey and attends Bergen Community College and is graduating this semester. He hopes to pursue a career in the medical field as a doctor.

Ana Zaragoza, Pueblo, CO

Ana is a DACA recipient who was born in Mexico City. At the age of five Ana was brought to this country, along with her younger sibling who at the time was only four years old. Ana is studying Business Management at Colorado State University in Pueblo where she is currently finishing her sophomore year.  Ana works to promote civic participation in her community by canvassing and recruiting volunteers with Mi Familia Vota.


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