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JJC student wants permanent solution for Dreamers

Brock A. Stein | 1/30/2018, 9:24 a.m.
Ana Campa Castillo will attend tonight's State of the Union address in Washington as the guest of Congressman Bill Foster.
Ana Campa Castillo, a JJC student, came to the U.S. when she was 6 years old. Submitted photo

When she graduates in May with an associate’s degree in psychology, Joliet Junior College student Ana Campa Castillo hopes that by then a more permanent solution for dreamer’s like her is in the works.

Campa Castillo first moved to the United States at the age of 6 with her parents, eventually graduating from Bolingbrook High School in 2009.

But 20 years after first coming to the states, her undocumented status, and the tenuous state of DACA, and the DREAM Act leaves her future in the U.S. in question.

Dreamers take their name from the DREAM Act which is an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act which was a piece of legislation first proposed in 2001 that would offer undocumented minors a path to permanent residency in the U.S. that has so far failed to be passed by Congress.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA was a policy that was first unveiled by former President Obabma’s administration that allows residents brought to the United States as children to register for a two-year renewable period that would free them from possible deportation and to receive a work permit. The executive order was rescinded by President Trump in 2017.

Campa Castillo, a JJC student, and mother of two boys, was invited to be the guest of Illinois Congressman Bill Foster at this week’s state of the union address in Washington.

Foster first heard Campa Castillo’s story at a DACA round table discussion in August at East Aurora High School.

“I guess my story made an impact,” she said of the invitation from Foster.

She said that she hopes her appearance will help others understand the plight of Dreamers who came to the United States as children.

“I think they need to see the human in us,” she said. “We’re not just a number.” Campa Castillo said that Dreamers permeate every facet of life in the U.S. and they all make a contribution to their communities and would continue to do so if offered a more permanent solution.

“We deserve that fixed status to continue contributing, to continue to give back,” she said.

As such, she said that she hopes to see talk of a solution this year and not just a continuation of DACA which involves re-enrollment every 2 years and includes extensive paperwork, criminal background checks as well as bio-metrics.

“We’re asking for a pathway to citizenship in order to continue to have that permanent solution and not be in limbo,” she said.

She said that she hopes that President Trump pushes for that permanent solution that is more than an executive order than can be easily reversed as well. She also hopes to see action from the administration that not only addresses the temporary status of an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients but also finds a solution for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. She said she also hopes that her appearance at the State of the Union in Washington will inspires allies of the movement to show their support as well.

“We’re urging our allies to stand up with us for this fight,” she said, “In every job you can imagine there’s dreamers.”

“To lose a shot at a permanent solution would be devastating.”