YORK, Pa. — To 20-year-old Yatciri Cruz, America is home.
“I was brought to the United States when I was 9 months old,” she said. “Most of us Dreamers have gotten, came to the United States as children, not even knowing, and this is all we know.”
Cruz, who goes to college and works as a paralegal, is one of 2 million people living in the country and legally allowed to work, known as Dreamers.
“We're citizens without the title,” she said. “We're citizens without the title, without the benefit, without being recognized.”
The name Dreamers comes from the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors ACT, or DREAM Act, of 2001. In the 20 years since there have been 11 versions of the bill introduced in Congress.
None have become law.
President Obama, through executive action in 2012, allowed Dreamers to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. However, it’s just how it sounds: deferred action, with no pathway to citizenship.
Now, though, there’s hope for change.
“It's not just numbers; it's actual people this is affecting,” said Earvin Gonzalez, with CASA, an immigration advocacy organization.
Gonzalez is the services manager at CASA’s office in York, Pennsylvania.
“We provide services and community organizing,” he said.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a new Dreamers bill – H.R. 6 - that could finally give some clarity to their immigration status. It now heads to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle.
“We're very happy to see the first step passed and waiting for the full act to pass,” Gonzalez said. “So, now, it's to continue to keep that pressure-- the White House, the Senate, was all won because of these promises you made for the immigrant community, so it’s now to uphold and keep those promises that you made.”
For Yatciri Cruz, that means speaking out and sharing her story publicly.
“We have hope. We have hope,” she said. “We give our full 100 percent to this country and to our people, our community.”
It’s all in the hopes, of getting a chance to stay.