FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – With the deadline to renew their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) benefits less than a week away, DREAMers in Northern Arizona organized to get university support in case the federal government failed to act.
After thanking the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) Thursday afternoon for the in-state tuition she said allowed her to pursue her college education, DACA beneficiary and Northern Arizona University senior, Kassandra Carrasco, asked the board members to protect their investment.
“You’ve invested in my education since the first day I stepped into my preschool class,” Carrasco said.
After more than two decades of studying, training, working and dreaming while undocumented in the United States, 22-year-old Kassandra Carrasco stood in front of the ABOR asking its members to defend in-state tuition for Arizona’s DREAMers.
Carrasco told 12 News she chose to pursue her college education in Flagstaff, knowing the area tended to be more supportive of the undocumented community.
Earlier that week, the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, and in the previous week, the Flagstaff City Council, each passed a resolution in support of DACA, asking for a permanent solution for undocumented students.
Carrasco said her hotel entrepreneurial goals were in limbo.
“I’m only 22 years old, and I’m the youngest female manager at my work,” Carrasco said.
The opportunity to put that competitive spirit to use is one Carrasco said sets the bar high in America—those who work hard, reap the rewards.
Carrasco’s co-DREAMers at NAU know all about success through hard work.
A pre-med student, Omar Gomez was no stranger to the Dean’s list. His humble beginnings guided his passion to help the homeless.
“I know what it’s like to grow up and to be with very little,” Gomez said.
Thursday afternoon, he feared he’d have to stop his community work if his DACA renewal application was rejected—his driving privileges ripped away.
“Especially during the winter time and handing out clothing—I can’t do that anymore. I can’t lug around piles of clothing with me,” Gomez explained.
Along with the void for medical professionals Gomez hoped to fill came Arizona’s need for educators.
The end of DACA meant no permission to teach for Kevin Alvarez, but he said there was still a need for a pathway to citizenship.
Alvarez explained, “Even if there was no solution through Congress, and I was able to renew my permit for the following two years, there’s the question of, ‘Will I continue to teach if I was offered a job?”’
The three DREAMers were each 3 years old when they came to this country. Their goals to put their learning to use were in limbo again.
Thursday, they asked their university leaders to defend their dreams of giving back to America as lawmakers controlled their fate.
© 2017 KPNX-TV