DACA Recipients Call For Clean Dream Act

SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- Groups of people gathered outside of the offices of Senator Tom Cotton Thursday morning (Jan. 18) to voice their concerns about recent comments made about the Dream Act.

The Arkansas United Community Coalition set up the event at Cotton's Springdale, Little Rock and Washington D.C. offices.

Members of the organization, DACA recipients and supporters of DACA all attended to let their voices be known.

“It shows us that we’re not alone and that we don’t have to go through this fight alone," DACA recipient Fernando Gutierrez said. "I know growing up I almost felt like I was living in the shadows because I didn’t want people to know my status. I didn’t have a lot of people to communicate with about this problem, I didn’t feel like people could relate.”

Even though Senator Cotton was not at the Springdale location, those there said they hoped that he would still hear what they have to say.

The members of the group did have an opportunity to go inside of the office Thursday morning.

Mireya Reith, the founding executive director of the AUCC said their goal was simply to voice their concerns.

"It is so concerning to us, not with just Senator Cotton but all our congressman, that when you speak with them on the Dream Act they are stepped in line with President Trump and they are very clear that they are going to follow President Trump on this," Reith said. "This is despite all the voices that have raised up here in Arkansas saying they are for the Dream Act.”

What many of them said they would like to see from Congress is a clean Dream Act.

Gutierrez said this means a Dream Act that does not separate families and provides a path for citizenship.

Cynthia Toyco said she came to America when she was around 7 years old.

She said she and her family escaped terroristic unrest in Peru.

One thing she wanted people to know is that for some DACA recipients like herself, coming to America was all about survival.

“We are refugees," Toyco said. "That really we didn’t choose to have so much pain. It was the only way to survive to make this decision.”

Senator Cotton did release a statement saying any DACA deal must include an end to chain migration:

Chain migration is one of the biggest problems in our immigration system today. Current law allows legal permanent residents and American citizens to sponsor both their immediate and extended family members for immigration to the United States. In other words, our system prioritizes people based on their family ties, instead of their ability to contribute to our nation’s economic well-being. For some categories, like spouses, minor children, elderly and disabled parents, this makes sense. Family is the bedrock of our society, and immediate families should be together.

The statement goes on to say that it is imperative that any final bill eliminates the preferences for extended family members.

To read Senator Cotton's full statement, click here.