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HANFORD — Marco Reyes, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) student, stood in front of Congressman David Valadao’s (R-Hanford) office Thursday and read a letter addressed to the congressman aloud.

“[My family] came to America for a better home, and you want to take that away from me?,” Reyes asked Valadao aloud. The congressman was not at his Hanford office at the time.

Thursday was considered the National Day of Action for the DREAM Act across the country. Thousands of students flooded both Sacramento and the Senate building in Washington, D.C.

Around 30 people gathered in front of Valadao’s office on Irwin Street in Hanford as well to advocate for DACA and the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

Pedro Elias, the director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, said thousands of DACA students are carrying a weight around on their shoulders because they don’t know what their fate is.

“They’re going to school, they’re working, they’re being productive citizens,” Elias said. “And yet, they’re still waiting for a decision.”

Daniel Penaloza, the Central Valley organizer for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, challenged Valadao to stand up for immigrant students.

“We need you [Valadao] to work tirelessly with your colleagues and members of Congress to ensure the passage of the DREAM Act,” Penaloza said, adding the future of the immigrant youth are in jeopardy.

Reyes implored Valadao to stand up for DACA students and the DREAM Act because he said immigrants are no different than other citizens.

“Just because I’m an immigrant doesn’t make me less than you,” Reyes said. “It just means I don’t have the rights you are given so freely.”

Reyes said many of the immigrant students come from hardworking families and are thankful to get the opportunity to get an education, a job, and help their communities.

“Last I checked, people live here, people pay rent, people actually buy stuff and help keep this economy going,” Reyes said of immigrants. “Don’t make us your problem, make us your solution. We have something greater to offer. Don’t take us for granted.”

The rally also included speeches from representatives of Health Access California and Mi Familia Vota.

The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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