Arkansas congressman to stand by DACA dreamers

KARK - Top Arkansas leaders came together under one roof at the Clinton Library Friday for the Delta Caucus.

DACA recipients, undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them illegally to the U.S. as children, used that to their advantage.

As the program hangs in limbo, they claim the Arkansas congressional delegation has ignored their calls so they confronted the only one present in Little Rock. 

The small group chanted, "Congressmen, we see you! Congressmen, where are you!," outside the library as U.S. Congressman Rick Crawford spoke inside about trade with Cuba and other job opportunities in the state.  

The chants of the DACA recipients arguably worked as Congressman Crawford made himself known as he left out of the library's main entrance. A 19-year-old Dreamer wouldn't let him get away.

"I actually would like for you to maybe do something about it because I'm a 4.0 bio, pre-med student on a full ride at Philander Smith College," Maria Meneses told the congressman when she caught up with him.

Meneses couldn't hold back tears as she explained to Crawford her dreams of going into the Navy and becoming a doctor.

"It's okay," Crawford said as he comforted her. "Hey, listen. Let me tell you something about the Navy thing. That's still an opportunity for you, okay? So I would continue to pursue that. That's a pathway to citizenship."

However, Meneses said she already tried to join and was turned away.

"If you call my office, I'll help you," Crawford said. "If they still tell us no, at least it won't be because we haven't tried."

"But what about the others?," Meneses asked.

"I understand, I understand," Crawford responded. "What I'm saying is I'm sympathetic to your position and I recognize that. I'm not someone who's trying to kick out Dreamers or anything like that." 

Meneses agreed to let him help her but shook her head as the congressman walked away.

"That, to me, doesn't sound promising at all because if you truly sympathize and care about the dreamers then he would do something about it and not just speak about it," she said.  

Meneses is just one of about 8,000 DACA recipients in Arkansas.

"We're all here for a reason," said Diana Pacheco, a fellow Dreamer and Philander Smith student. "And the reason is to have our dreams come true."

They said they'll keep working as their chants only grow louder to make sure lawmakers listen. 

"Meet the Dreamers! Hear our stories!," they chanted.

A discharge petition is currently circulating the U.S. House of Representatives that could get the ball rolling on legislation to extend the DACA program. 

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