Trinity Dreamers Featured in Washington Post

Trinity Dreamers Featured in Washington Post

President McGuire, Sadhana Singh ’18 and Marisela Tobar ’18 Featured in Washington Post Spotlight on 10th Anniversary of DACA

When Washington Post reporters prepared to report on the 10th anniversary of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, they turned to Trinity Washington University, which was among the first universities nationwide to welcome DACA students and partner with TheDream.US Scholarship program. The reporters interview Pat McGuire, president of Trinity, where about 10 percent of full-time students are DACA beneficiaries, and Sadhana Singh ’18, who was in the first cohort of Trinity Dreamers who received support from TheDream.US Scholarship program, and is now senior communications manager at TheDream.US. The Washington Post profiled four Dreamers who were among the first to receive DACA status. Trinity graduate Marisela Tobar ’18, a third grade teacher in Maryland, is one of the Dreamers featured: At Trinity, “she was constantly learning, she said, ‘learning my craft, learning what I wanted to do, learning about the world. “I loved it,” she said.”

The Washington Post excerpts are below; read the full article here. Learn more about Dreamer Scholarships at Trinity.

A decade ago, DACA gave ‘dreamers’ hope. Since Trump, it’s been in limbo

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains controversial

By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, June 30, 2022

When Sadhana Singh saw President Barack Obama announce a new program for young undocumented people brought to the country as children, she felt a surge of hope.

Sadhana SinghSingh, whose parents had left Guyana when she was young, was at the time a 26-year-old in Georgia, longing for education and a meaningful career but unable to work legally. But Obama’s announcement 10 years ago offered a new chance. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program has allowed hundreds of thousands of eligible young people whose immigrant parents brought them to the United States to get benefits such as a Social Security card, driver’s license and two-year work permit. It also opened the door for many to go to college. “I immediately understood it meant a kind of salvation for me,” Singh recalled recently.

Still, DACA’s impact has always been tempered by uncertainty. Critics said it was created unlawfully and rewarded illegal immigration. It was threatened during the Trump administration, and new applications are suspended because of ongoing litigation. A Texas federal court last year ruled in favor of Republican officials who argued that the Obama administration had no authority to create the program. The Biden administration is appealing the decision, with a hearing scheduled for July.

At Trinity Washington University in the nation’s capital, where about 10 percent of full-time students are DACA beneficiaries, President Patricia McGuire said they are impressive, highly motivated students who have raised the school’s graduation rate. “Unless the policy changes,” she said, “all these fabulous graduates will be facing a dilemma.”

Singh, who graduated from Trinity with the support of a TheDream.Us scholarship, now works for the nonprofit and said nearly 2,500 of its scholarship recipients have graduated college. Their impact has been inspiring, she said. At the same time, she hears their anxiety, the sense that “the ax could drop any time for them.” Like many, Singh became exhausted by all the years of uncertainty. She and her husband moved to Canada and, after two years, they were granted permanent residency there — an enormous weight lifted, she said. “All of the anxieties are gone.”

Four DACA recipients look back on the impact of DACA over the past decade and consider its challenges for the future. …

Marisela Tobar, 26, Montgomery County, Maryland

What Marisela Tobar remembers of El Salvador are just fragments: Her pet chicken. The shape of the mountain outside their door. The smell of fish cooking. The feel of her grandmother, her presence. The wonder and confusion of sleeping outside for weeks, feeling the rumbling aftershocks of a massive earthquake in 2001. And the song that was on the car radio when she sat in the back seat as they drove through a market the morning her family fled to the United States. She was 5.

Her parents wanted their children to get a good education. Growing up in Maryland, Tobar learned to love school. She also learned that her family could not travel like other families over spring break and summer vacation. She learned her father couldn’t argue if he didn’t get paid on time. She learned the words “raid,” and “deportation.” She learned the family might be separated at any time. “I was completely, always, worried,” she said.

She had a calling to become a teacher, she said, but knew she couldn’t do that without a college education. “It was difficult to dream,” she said, “because you couldn’t find a way through to your dream.” She thought she might be able to work her way through Montgomery College, slowly, as she saved enough money for tuition one class at a time. She was at Six Flags America with friends, an end-of-the-school-year trip when she was a junior, when her mom texted her about DACA. “It was a lot of words, and it felt so unreal,” she said.

But as she learned more, she knew, she said, “It was going to completely change my life.” With DACA, she had the confidence to talk with counselors and admissions offices about teaching. She applied for a TheDream.US scholarship and Trinity Washington University. “I suddenly had a plan, and I was going for it,” she said.

At college, she was constantly learning, she said, “learning my craft, learning what I wanted to do, learning about the world.” “I loved it,” she said.

Then one day, a professor stopped class after hearing news. DACA had been paused; the future was unknown. Tobar and many classmates rushed to the White House, joining a spontaneous protest, shouting, “You’re taking away everything!” “That was our way to grieve,” she said. “I felt like something was lost. Like you lost someone.”

As DACA ping-ponged through courts, she has felt acutely aware that the government has all her information and that she is vulnerable. It has gone back and forth so many times, she said, that she has lost track.

She’s now teaching third grade in Montgomery County, grateful for the education and the experience. “I’m able to do what I love,” she said, in a classroom with children every day. “I’m serving the community.” But she’s exhausted, too, by the uncertainty, and dreaming of a more permanent reality.

DACA was amazing, she said. “It changed my life. Ultimately, I don’t want my life to stay like this.”

Read the full Washington Post article here.

Learn more about Dreamer Scholarships at Trinity.

Learn more about additional resources at Trinity for undocumented persons.

Trinity Media Relations Contact: Ann Pauley,

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