Three Trevecca students were chosen by an immigration-reform lobbying group to tell their stories to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
Arturo Prieto, Berenice Olivia and Yenin Echeveria on Oct. 5 joined more than 125 other college students from 20 states to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that will allow them to continue studying in the United States.
The three are DACA students, or students who came to the United States as children and are currently protected under an executive order that President Donald Trump plans to end. Trump has asked Congress to act on the issue.
The deadline to file for renewal status of the DACA program was on Oct. 5. Recipients whose renewal status falls between October and March are eligible for renewal. Those outside of those months are not allowed to renew.
“What I hoped from the trip is for politicians to know the urgency of passing a legislation that will allow Dreamers the opportunity to continue their education,” said Prieto, a junior international business major.
Prieto came to the U.S. with his parents when he was 4-years-old where he began school in Nashville shortly after. He says Tennessee is him home.
“It’s all that I know,” he said.
Preto, Oliva and Echeveria were invited on the trip by FWD.us, a lobbying group that advocates comprehensive immigration reform. FWD.us paid the way for the trip including flight, hotel and food.
“For the past three years, I’ve been really involved in my community with getting more informed with immigration and refugees,” said Oliva. “This was an experience that I really wanted to be a part of.”
Oliva’s renewal exprires in May 2018, so she is not eligible to apply for renewal status.
"Knowing this brought up so many fears and made me want to get out there and share my story with our politicians,” she said.
Arriving into the nation’s capital, Prieto, Oliva and Echeveria along with the rest of the group got together to discuss their lives and what their hopes and dreams were after college.
“Knowing that others across the nation share the same dreams as we do and hearing the impact we are making in our communities made us stronger as a group,” said Prieto.
During the trip students spoke with members of the senate and congress. All three students visited with Tennessee lawmakers; Rep. Jim Cooper, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. David Castoff. They also spoke with Rep. Kamala Harris from California.
The 125 dreamers participated in a press conference with close to 30 different media outlets that included Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsay Graham who are co-sponsors for the Dream Act.
All three Trevecca students shared their stories personally with politicians that represent the state that they call home.
“Listening to my story and the DACA neighbors we have here on campus is important because we have so much uncertainty in our future, all while trying to be a good student and citizen,” said Oliva.
“I want students to know that we are not much different, we are your neighbors, we are involved, we contribute and we just want an equal opportunity because we believe that we deserve it,” he said.