Since September, Michell Hernandez has been counting down the days.
The UF microbiology sophomore immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3 years old and has lived and studied here under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Now, the 20-year-old’s future is filled with uncertainty as the end of DACA looms closer.
“I can’t continue living with a countdown in my head, with my days being numbered,” she said.
In September, President Donald Trump announced the end of the DACA, legislation that allows people brought to the U.S. as children to work and attend school without fear of deportation. Trump said it would be phased out by March, according to NPR.
UF President Kent Fuchs joined Volusia County Sheriff, Michael Chitwood, and Dean Inserra, pastor of City Church Tallahassee, in a press call Thursday to encourage Congress to pass permanent legislation that protects Dreamers. Fuchs said he not only wants to see protection for undocumented students, but also legislation that gives them a pathway to citizenship.
“These are some of the world’s very best individuals in terms of their achievements so far and also their potential,” he said.
To advocate for Dreamers, Fuchs has reached out to leaders in Washington who can promote the reinstatement of DACA or a pathway to citizenship. The Student Affairs office has also compiled a list of resources for DACA students on its website.
Fuchs believes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants pursuing a degree in the United States would be beneficial in every aspect.
“It’s in the best interest not only of those students, not only of the university, but it’s in the best interest of the state of Florida and, indeed, our nation,” he said.
Hernandez hopes other people see the urgency of passing legislation that protects Dreamers. She was pleased to see Fuchs use his position of influence to advocate for undocumented immigrants, but she feels UF and the nation as a whole has a long way to go to protect the Dreamers.
“It’s really wild to feel like you’re not really human,” she said.