Hoosier Dreamers speak out 2 days before potential government shutdown

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hoosier Dreamers gathered at Christ Church Cathedral on Monument Circle Wednesday to share their stories and urge Hoosiers to support new legislation similar to DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.)

Dreamers, a catch-all phrase for immigrants taken to the U.S. illegally as children, number around 800,000 in the nation with about 9,800 living in Indiana, according to the Department of Homeland Security. DACA and immigrant protection acts have allowed Dreamers access to legal documents for employment or school admittance.

Omar Gama came to the United States from Mexico at the age of 10. He says he believes our government leaders will protect his dream and will keep him in the country.

“I know that my family and I will get through it because we have a dream of hope in our leadership. We know they will do whatever to protect us and that they have the power to do it,” he said to the crowd inside Christ Church Cathedral, at a conference organized by Faith in Indiana, formerly Indy CAN.

Thanks to his DACA documentation, Gama recently was able to visit his grandmother in Mexico for the first time in 14 years. He said she passed away five months later.

“I held her for what seemed hours,” Gama said, wiping away tears. “Although she suffered from Alzheimer’s, a couple days into my visit she was able to remember my name.”

In 2015, Gama graduated from the Indiana University School of Business Management and now works at Simon Property Group.

“I was finally able to come out of the shadows. I could join the line of work I’d been dreaming of: banking and real estate,” he said.

“The Dreamers and their families are productive members of this country, of this state. And not having them here is going to do more harm than benefit,” said William Almodovar, leader for Faith in Indiana and pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Casa del Alfarero.

Almodovar has his own story to share. He was arrested last year as part of the All Saints Day Civil Disobedience protest, in support of Dreamers’ rights.

“To be honest, I would do it as many times as necessary in order to have justice for our families and friends,” Almodovar told the audience.

The battle on Capitol Hill is a lot bigger than just those who like and don’t like protecting immigrant rights; it’s piggybacked onto our nation’s budget.

“The government runs out of money this Friday,” said Representative Bradley Byrne, a Republican from Alabama. “That should be the most important thing that we’re dealing with this week.”

“I think it would be a terrible mistake to shut down the government and particularly while we are negotiating in good faith, just because we are not meeting their deadline,” said Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas.