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Panel aims for DACA education

Jessica Fuller • Updated Feb 20, 2018 at 10:43 PM

As the future of Dreamers remains in limbo while Congress struggles to pass a bipartisan deal on immigration, community activists decided to educate the community on the issue this weekend with a panel highlighting the issue.

Organized by Indivisible Tri-Cities and Carter County Democratic Women's Club, DACA: Dreaming Together brings together local experts to speak about immigration, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the young people it would affect. The panel will be at the Johnson City Public Library Saturday and run from 1 to 3 p.m.

“Dreamers” are immigrants whose parents brought them to the U.S. without legal sanction before age 16. President Donald Trump’s rescinding of his predecessor Barack Obama’s DACA order late last year left its 790,000 recipients uncertain about their future. Dreamers’ fates remain uncertain as Congress continues to debate a resolution to their statuses and legal standing.

Sharon Brown, co-founder of Indivisible Tri-Cities and an organizer of the event, said that she felt the purpose of the event is to bring the community together for an educational discussion on the matters of immigration by offering different perspectives including legal, higher education and spiritual.

“We want to educate the public about this,” Brown said. “I think a lot of people do not understand the immigration process to begin with. They talk about making (immigrants) go to the back of the line, but there isn’t a line for them to get in.”

Brown added that she hopes that the panel will help members of the community understand what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant or DACA recipient and challenge some misconceptions she said she has heard in relation to the issue. She added that a few Dreamers, including Jessica Miranda, who has previously spoken with the Press on being a DACA recipient, will be presenting their side of the issue.

“People tend to think (immigrants) get everything for free, they get all these services that Americans don’t get and that’s not true,” Brown said, adding that an immigration lawyer will be present to answer questions from the community.

Felipe Fiuza, the director of the Language and Culture Resource Center at East Tennessee State University, said he will be participating in the panel to clear up some misconceptions about undocumented immigrants. He’ll offer a brief explanation of the DACA program and explain how undocumented immigrants are able to go to and pay for college, which are just a few misconceptions he said he hopes to clear up.

”I am trying to do my best to close the gap between those two groups, the native speakers and the non-native speakers,” Fiuza said.

Rev. Timothy Holder, pastor at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Elizabethton, will also be on the panel to provide his perspective as someone who has helped build Latino communities around the country for the past 20 years.

Holder has worked extensively with Latino communities in the area, and said he is excited to bring a spiritual perspective to the panel.

“My Bible teaches me that Jesus welcomed all and we intend to do the same,” Holder said. “We have to know that each human being is not discountable, is not a refugee, we are all adopted sons and daughters of Jesus Christ.”

Email Jessica Fuller at jfuller@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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