Massbay Comunity College

DACA Students Share their Story from Washington to the Massachusetts Statehouse

Paola Sanchez stands in front of the Massachusetts State House.

Paola Sanchez came to United States for a better life when she was 15-years old. For Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students the story isn’t new, and for Paola Sanchez originally from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, this is the only story she has ever known.

At the age of 8 her father passed away suddenly, leaving her wheelchair bound mother to care for 3 daughters with no means of income. This tragic turn of events and her family’s determination to find a better quality life led her aunt and uncle to bring her to the U.S. In 2013, Sanchez was granted DACA status, opening doors into the world of higher education, MassBay and many opportunities. “I currently work as a Case Manager Assistant 30 hours a week, and I am full time student at Massbay Community College,” said Sanchez. “I have the opportunity to fulfill an education goal, but also the chance to pursue my dreams. I always dreamed of becoming a Nurse and next year I will be starting the Nursing Program.”

Paola was recently invited by MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition) to attend an event in Washington DC to urge legislators to pass the Dream Act Now. She participated in a meeting with other DACA students and members of Congress, including Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III, to discuss their personal stories and how this new immigration legislation would impact their lives. “I explained how DACA has opened many doors for me, and in a blink of an eye, that opportunity has been put into jeopardy. All the hard work and dedication seems to be coming to an end, but I have faith that WE will ALL come together to support many young students who, like me, are just looking for the opportunity to give the best of themselves and become better people and professionals, people who seek to create a better future for themselves and their families.”

Paola was also invited to be a guest speaker at MIRA’s annual Thanksgiving luncheon, Our Shared Table, which is held at the Massachusetts Statehouse. The luncheon included remarks by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy, Chairman of the Democratic National Convention Tom Perez and head of the Haitian Apostolate of the Diocese of Worcester Sister Marie-Judith Dupuy. Paola shared her emotional experience as a DACA recipient, a mother and a nursing student with the hundreds in attendance receiving a standing ovation. “My future and my family’s future is uncertain. That is why I’m here, because I need your help. I want to stay in this country, I have paid my taxes. I have contributed to this country, I feel like I am an American. My son was born in this country and I don’t want to leave.”

“While in Washington, I learned the thousands of immigrants are losing their DACA protections already. Now, more than ever we need people to raise their voices and call your Senators, call your Representatives, and demand a Clean Dream Act Now! Do it for the thousands of undocumented youth who don’t know what is going to happen with their futures.”