Erie ‘Dreamer’ Hopes for Immigration Reform

Millcreek Township resident Brayham Ramirez, a DACA recipient, said he supports President Donald Trump’s plan to rescind the program

Brayham Ramirez dreamed of joining the military while most of his McDowell High School classmates were looking ahead to college.

“I consider myself an American,” he said. “Serving my country was my biggest dream. But those dreams were shattered.”

The 25-year-old Millcreek Township resident is one of the 800,000 so-called Dreamers — the children of undocumented immigrants who were granted legal status by the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

He, like the others, is now waiting to see how Congress acts on immigration reform following last week’s announcement by President Donald Trump that he plans to rescind DACA.

Trump has given Congress six months to find a replacement for DACA. At that point, he’ll begin phasing out the program.

“I didn’t find out until my teenage years, when I was in ninth or 10th grade at McDowell,” Ramirez said. “One day she sat me down and said, ‘Here’s our situation, we don’t have any paperwork.’”

Ramirez, who was born in Colombia, came to the U.S. with his mother when Ramirez was 9, not long after his parents divorced. They wanted to be close to family living in Erie. They arrived on tourist visas, which expired after six months. They stayed anyway.

He graduated in June 2010. A month later, with the military and college off the table because of his immigration status, Ramirez drove to the Canadian border in hopes of starting anew — again.

Instead, he was detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and held in a detention center for 36 days. He posted bail and was released with the help of an attorney, but U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement had already started the process to have him deported. He was in and out of court proceedings until June 2012, when he was granted prosecutorial discretion. Prosecutorial discretion was for years I.C.E.’s method of prioritizing its immigration enforcement resources. It allowed I.C.E. prosecutors to drop cases against law-abiding undocumented immigrants while pursuing gang members, drug dealers and violent offenders.

By Matthew Rink for Go Erie.com
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