President Barack Obama, 2/4/2015
Each of the young people who stood in the Oval Office yesterday had one thing in common: They were all brought here by parents dreaming of a better life for their children in America.
Some of them arrived when they were simply months old. They were raised in American communities, often not realizing their status was any different from that of their classmates or neighbors. Many of them, as the President noted in remarks at the end of the meeting, didn't discover that there was something different about them -- something that might prevent them from giving back to their community and their country -- until they were about to go to college.
Their experiences are emblematic of those of millions more young people across the country, and Executive Actions taken by this Administration with regard to DREAMers -- along with Executive Actions announced last year, allowing millions of immigrants to come out of the shadows -- have transformed their lives. These actions have made college a reality for young people who didn't previously think it was an option for them. They have helped them start small businesses and better provide for their families. Most importantly, they've allowed them to more fully contribute to the country they know as home.
Yesterday, six of these young people met with the President for a conversation in the Oval Office. These are their stories.
Steven Arteaga (Houston, TX)
Born in Mexico City, Steven can remember reading about the marches and rallies of the Civil Rights Movement and feeling inspired to raise his voice within his own community. After obtaining DACA status in 2013, he started work at Mi Familia Vota, empowering and engaging members of the immigrant community to continue to bring about positive social change.
Jean Yannick Diouf (Rockville, MD)
Jean was eight years old when his father, a diplomat, brought his family over from Senegal to live in the U.S. After becoming a DACA recipient in December of 2012, Jean can now provide for himself and help support his family. Having earned an Associate's Degree from Montgomery Community College, Jean is now a junior at the University of Maryland, where he is pursuing a degree in Business Management.
Blanca Gamez (Las Vegas, NV)
Blanca arrived in the U.S. when she was just seven months old, and has lived in Nevada for the past 25 years. She graduated from the University of Nevada with degrees in political science and English literature. She is currently applying for law school, which she hopes to attend next fall.
Maria Praeli (Hamden, CT)
Born in Peru, Maria came to the U.S. at age five. She enrolled at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Connecticut in 2012, and was elected student body president -- the first undocumented student to hold that position in her school's history. Having earned her associate's degree in 2014, she is currently a junior at Quinnipiac University, where she is pursuing a degree in political science.
Rishi Singh (South Ozone Park, NY)
A recent DACA recipient and Trinidadian immigrant, Rishi graduated from Hunter College of the City University of New York, obtaining degrees in psychology and accounting. He has been organizing for immigrant rights since 2003, and currently serves as an educational justice organizer at DRUM South Asian Organizing Center in New York.
Bati-amgalan Tsogtsaikhan (Arlington, VA)
Bati and his parents arrived in the United States from Mongolia when he was ten years old. A DACA recipient, he received his associate's degree in business administration from Northern Virginia Community College in 2013. Today, he's interning at the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium, and pursuing a bachelor's degree in finance at George Mason University.
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