A DACA Recipient Asks Her Medical Student Colleagues to Advocate for the DREAM Act

By Alejandra Duran Arreola

(These remarks were delivered at a rally of the Stritch School of Medicine student to support their DACA recipient colleagues on September 6, 2017.)

Hello friends. Thanks for being here. My name is Alejandra Duran Arreola. I am a second-year medical student and part of the 2020 class. I am a physician in training; I am a DACA student; I am your classmate, your volleyball line person, your small group rep. I am you and you are me; we both wear this coat with the purpose of being physicians for others…

As many of you know DACA was rescinded yesterday.

Yesterday I was angry, sad and felt a little betrayed. After fighting tooth and nail to be a college student in South Georgia, without instate tuition or financial aid, without a driver’s license, with an equal chance of making it to 8 a.m. biology or jail every Monday and Wednesday I still made it through cleaning houses, and working multiple jobs, and making opportunities out of nothing. I made it to medical school.

I believed that if I got into medical school I would have made it. I did and for a year, I worried only about Anatomy and Function of the Human Body (FHB). But yesterday a very familiar feeling crept up my spine: fear. Not the fear of deportation, but the fear of never becoming a doctor and the reality of having a six-figure debt with no degree and no job hit me head on…

At his moment, it is easy to blame, to feel anger, but we must resist that. Our biology and basic instincts tells us that in times of uncertainty and fear we must retreat to that which we know … But in these times, we must not give into those basic instincts. I want to challenge you to do the opposite.

This administration is asking/forcing us to retreat into ourselves to trust only those who are most like us. I tell you today that is a false choice. We need to rely and trust one another.

And not all is lost. Even without DACA we are not where we were 5 years ago. I am still in medical school, and thousands of people like me have come out of the shadows to enrich and prosper in many fields. Through DACA we have been able to change people’s hearts, to change policies, to engage entire university systems and make then our allies

But it is at this point that we, more than ever need to tell our story. Yes, this is not the ideal situation but today with or without DACA we will move forward. This is perhaps one of those pivotal moments in history where a group of dedicated people can make a change. We need to be those people. We must make our voices heard, we must inspire an entire nation to push for the DREAM Act.

Today we have a tremendous opportunity to fight for something permanent. We must DEMAND that Congress acts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform. Through the next couple of months we will need you to advocate for us, to march alongside us, to call your representatives.

And I want to remind you that we are still here with you on Monday we will still be taking that Pharm test by your side but what we do in the next couple of months will determine if 8 of your class mates in the 2020 class will walk through the graduation stage with you or not. Thank you.

Alejandra Duran Arreola is a second year medical student at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.  She is one of 32 DACA recipients who competed on a level playing field to matriculate at Stritch. They ask that you call your congressional representatives and senators and ask them to support the DREAM Act.

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