On Monday, April 22, self-proclaimed “bicultural undocumented American” Gaby Pacheco addressed the Senate Judiciary Committee and called upon the “Gang of Eight” to please “give me, my family, and 11 million of us an opportunity to fully integrate and achieve our American Dream.” The 11 million of “us” she was referring to are the estimated 11 million “Americans” who, along with Pacheco, are also in this country illegally.
Maria Gabriela “Gaby” Pacheco was born in 1985 in Guayaquil, Ecuador and moved to the United States in 1993 with her parents and three siblings.
Pacheco says she didn’t learn of her undocumented status until she was in the eight grade. At that time, her older sister, Erika, was refused admittance to Miami Dade College because she was undocumented. A year later, her second oldest sister, Mari, tried to join the Air Force but couldn’t because she was also undocumented.
After seeing her sisters’ hopes and dreams for a better future crushed, says Pacheco, she threw herself into her studies, determined to find a way to go to college. And she did. With the help of a student adviser, Pacheco was miraculously able to renew her student Visa, which had been expired for seven years.
Pacheco and other undocumented students went on to form SWER (Students Working for Equal Rights, which has become a powerful activist group nationwide. During her reign as student government president of the community college system in Florida, Pacheco frequently addressed colleges and universities and the state leadership in Tallahassee, speaking about the “urgent need for in-state tuition for undocumented students.”
However, all of her activities attracted the attention of ICE (Immigration Customs and Enforcement), who came to Pacheco’s home looking for her. Instead, they found all the undocumented members of her family and took them away to be processed for deportation.
Again, miraculously, Pacheco says, “we were able to stop their deportation for years — in time my sister Erika was able to get her green card, my sister Mari, my mom and dad obtained prosecutorial discretion, and only a few days ago, on my brother’s birthday, he finally received his deferred action through DACA, President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
In 2009 Pacheco gave up her student visa so she could be part of the Trail of Dreams. Pacheco and four other students left Miami on January 1, 2010 and walked the 1,500-mile journey to Washington D.C. According to the Trail of Dreams website:
“We were brought to the United States by our families when we were young. This is the only country we have known as home. We have the same hopes and dreams as other young people, and have worked hard to excel in school and contribute to our communities. But because of our immigration status, we’ve spent our childhoods in fear and hiding, unable to achieve our full potential. We walk in order to share our stories and to call on our leaders to fix the system that forces people like us into the shadows, stripping us of the opportunity to participate meaningfully in society.”
Pacheco’s activities have attracted quite a bit of attention, especially since she was invited to address the Senate Judiciary Committee at their hearing for The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Ace. Her impassioned plea that she and her 11 million fellow undocumented “Americans” be allowed to achieve the American Dream has been echoed at The Huffington Post, The Daily Caller and probably dozens of other websites by now.
But nowhere in any of these reports, including her own website, does Pacheco explain why her entire family is in this country illegally, or why they never bothered to take care of getting the proper legal documentation.
Instead, she spoke of her family’s achievements since they’ve been in this country. In her address before the Gang of Eight, Pacheco told of her father who is now an ordained Southern Baptists preacher, currently working as a window washer. Her mother, who somehow managed to become a licensed nurse’s aide, isn’t working due to health problems. Her oldest sister, Erika, is now married to a United States citizen and has two United States children, and now she’ll be able to vote in the next election.
Playing the discrimination card, Pacheco compared her predicament to the Civil Rights movement:
“I vividly remember how robes of white, in a KKK demonstration, had colored the streets of a small town in Georgia. In fact, an event eerily similar to this demonstration just took place this past Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. America’s history, however, shows that we have been here before and we have overcome.”
Pacheco went on to point out the economic benefits of legalizing people like her: “ …all 11 million of us, will make the United States stronger and will bring about significant economic gains in terms of growth, earnings, tax revenues, and jobs.”
Pacheco then threw herself and her 11 million cohorts on the mercy of the court and surrendered her “talents, passion, and life” if the Gang of Eight would only give them all the “opportunity to fully integrate and achieve (their) American Dream.”
Pacheco asked the committee, “What do you want to do with me? What do you want to do with us?”
Well, first, wouldn’t it be nice if Pacheco, her family, and her 11 million cohorts would explain why they’re in this country illegally and why they never bothered to get the proper documentation? And how did she miraculously manage to get her student visa renewed after it had been expired for seven years? And how did every member of her family avoid deportation after being in this country illegally for more than 15 years?
Pacheco and her supporters are calling themselves Americans with American Dreams, taking full advantage of all our country has to offer. She’s demanding integration and asking for college tuition assistance for undocumented students who are in this country illegally, along with a host of other rights and opportunities that legal American citizens have to work for and pay for out of their own pockets.
What’s worse, Pacheco is asking us to turn a blind eye simply because she, her family, and 11 million other illegal immigrants achieved so much since they’ve been here. But at whose expense, Pacheco?
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