Dreamers Are American


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Mariana's* Story

Mariana works in the medical field, has been accepted into a nursing program, and will soon be a mother of two. Her success was made possible by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which gives “dreamers” or immigrants who came to the U.S. without documentation as young children, temporary legal status and work authorization.

“[With DACA]I got my license. I was able to get a job. And you feel so secure. You were always so scared. You were just stuck in this box, you couldn’t really do anything.

And once we got it…I know it’s not residency or citizenship or anything but it’s like ‘you belong here, it’s ok to be here.’”

Speaking Out

Now, with the future of DACA uncertain, Mariana is sharing her story to ensure more people understand her situation. “There are people who have heard about it, but they don’t know the facts. They think we’re all criminals. But if they knew about the background checks every two years and the fingerprints every time…” 

She hopes more people with DACA will “come out and say yes, I have DACA and we need help.” When the future of the program became uncertain, Mariana started telling her coworkers, “I have DACA.” Once they knew, they became more supportive.

“They’re more educated about it. They ask questions. Most people, once they know more, they see how it benefits everybody. We do our taxes, we pay for everything. I know so many people who have DACA are doing great things: they’re going to school, they’re starting careers, they’re buying houses.”


A future in limbo

When DACA was announced, Mariana was 19. She had graduated high school and started taking college classes, but gave up because “there was no point.” As soon as she received DACA she returned to school. “I could actually see a future.”

She is registered to begin a nursing program in August, but now the future once again seems uncertain. “We’re just so nervous, my mom was crying when she found out. Everybody’s like, ‘just go to Mexico and you can be a nurse there.’ But I don’t know enough Spanish to be a nurse. I think I’m more Minnesotan than Mexican.”

The International Institute of Minnesota strongly opposes the decision to rescind DACA and advocates for a permanent solution for dreamers. To stand with Mariana, call your congress people.

EO Rally Jan 2017.jpeg

A sense of security

Mariana renewed her DACA status at the International Institute, for a fraction of the cost of hiring a lawyer. Helping people like her file paperwork is more than clerical work: it gives New Americans a sense of belonging and security. Whether with DACA, green cards, or citizenship, we make complex processes accessible and affordable. 

*We changed this client's name to ensure her safety and that of her family. 



We could tell 4319 stories.

Every New American who walks through our doors has a powerful story. We wish we could introduce you to everyone. Since we can't tell 4319 client stories, here are six that perfectly represent our mission.




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