An in-depth discussion about immigration and ‘Dreamers’ highlights symposium

The University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas hosted an online seminar Wednesday to address immigration in the age of deportation.

For Cesia Bulnes, who was born in Honduras and moved to the United States at a young age, some of her childhood memories include constantly moving to different states in an effort for her parents to be able to find work.

“When I was a little girl, I think I attended around nine elementary schools. We lived in so many places around the U.S. because my dad, who was here illegally, was constantly trying to look for new jobs that would pay him under the table. It was a really difficult time,” she recalled.

Bulnes is one of the hundreds of thousands of children who are considered “Dreamers”—part of the group affected by the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) which was a bill that was never passed that would have granted legal status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. She, along with others, shared their stories and experiences about living in the U.S. as a Dreamer during a virtual panel that was part of a symposium hosted by the University of Miami Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas, which assembled thought leaders around the pressing issues of immigration.

Xavier Cortada, professor of practice, moderated the panel. Daniela Tintín Peña, who also immigrated to the United States from Ecuador at age three, expressed her gratitude for her parents who sacrificed everything for a bright future.

“They came here to give me a better life and better opportunities, and even if it meant putting their life on the back burner, I’ll never be able to repay them or thank them enough. I’m truly blessed,” she said.

Both Bulnes and Peña are success stories. Bulnes graduated from New World School of the Arts and earned a full-tuition scholarship to Florida International University. She is now employed by Microsoft, where she holds a position as a program manager. Peña is a senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in computer science at Hunter College. She is pursuing a career in product management post-graduation and will be (virtually) spending the summer as a products and innovation intern at Mastercard.

By Amanda M. Perez for NEW.MIAMI
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