As government shutdown looms, activists fight for "Dreamers"

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WAND) — Gioconda Guerra Perez, PhD became an educator to make a difference.

“I work with these students. I advise. I teach. I mentor these students,” Guerra Perez said. “I know their stories and the struggles for them and their families.”

Guerra Perez has been working with students for 15 years. But now academics are the least of their worries.

Congress has to approve a budget by Friday night — and one of the main political poker chips on the table is the status of “Dreamers,” undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children.

Democrats and some Republicans are pushing congress to keep the Dream Act alive — or run the risk of a government shutdown.

That’s why Bend the Arc: CU brought together community leaders and activists to rally support for the “Dreamers.”

“Everybody should be passionate about providing an education and a better life for anyone, regardless of where they are,” Guerra Perez said. “I think this is part of our role of being an educator.”

“The state of Illinois has already invested in these people,” said state treasurer Michael Frerichs. “We’ve spent lots of money educating them, making them productive members of society ready to join the workforce and now we’re saying they have to leave. That’s a poor business decision.”

And as the last night of Hanukkah comes to a close, Rabbi Ariel Naveh hopes the undocumented immigrants he considers his friends will continue to bring the light to central Illinois.

“The light that these young people, these DACA recipients, these Dreamers have to offer is one that’s been shining bright for the last few years,” Naveh said. “To let it go out because of partisan politics would just be a shame.”

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