The potential end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, has slipped off the headlines in recent weeks, but the 800,000 “Dreamers” still worry daily about deportation.
Congressman Joe Kennedy and other young House members want “Dreamers” to know they're listening and trying hard to help, so they met with several of them over lunch on Monday.
Dreams have come true for Daishi Miguel Tanaka, a junior at Harvard University. Just migrating to the U.S. was living the dream - though the circumstances were not happy ones.
“Being half Filipino, half Japanese, my mom and I faced a lot of racial persecution in Japan,” said Tanaka.
And though he is undocumented, he has never felt anything but American since his first day of school at age 6.
“I saw kids of all shapes and sizes and all colors putting their hands over their hearts under a flag and that's when I knew that this country was for me,” he said.
But since the Trump administration announced the end of DACA more than a month ago, the program that allows temporary legal status to undocumented immigrants who entered the country as minors, being a "Dreamer" has turned into a nightmare where deportation is a daily fear.
“I don't know what's going to happen in my future, I don't know if I can't focus on my studies,” Tanaka said.
Still, Tanaka is doing what many "Dreamers" are afraid to do - speak openly - which he does often as co-director of a student run organization that helps immigrants.
Over the lunch with politicians Monday, his message reached an even wider, more influential audience, including Kennedy, who said, “Our politics are cheapening their effort, making our country weaker than it needs to be.”
Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Florida, who escaped from communist Vietnam with her parents as a young child, said after the lunch, “You know that behind every single dreamer is a family and they have parents they love.”
She along with Kennedy and other members of Congress are traveling the country to share a meal with undocumented students and families to hear their stories and let them know what is being done to protect them.