, the first lady, delivered a commencement speech
Thursday to college graduates Dreamers
, the young immigrants who came to the United States as children
, saying, "We stand with you."
“You have accomplished and completed something that will change your life forever,” the first lady told immigrant graduates at a virtual event hosted by TheDream.US, which provides scholarships to DACA recipients.
Biden went on to say that as an English professor at Northern Virginia
Community College, she has had many students who are "new Americans," refugees
, and "Dreamers who were brought to America as young children."
“We know you have so much to offer this country in the days ahead,” Biden said, adding, “We stand with you. Never stop dreaming.”
The first lady stated that many Dreamers have had to live "in fear of being forced to return to countries they've never known," and that her husband, President Joe Biden
, is working on policies to create "fair pathways to citizenship for students like you."
President Biden has been advocating in Congress
for several immigration
bills, including one that would grant DACA recipients permanent resident status and another that would provide a path to citizenship for farmworkers and other undocumented immigrants.
Immigration reform efforts passed by the Democratic-led House, on the other hand, face stiff opposition in the Senate
, which is heavily divided.
During the graduation ceremony, written testimonies from this year's immigrant graduates were shown on screen, including one that read: "Para mis padres que llegaron sin nada pero me dieron todo" — or in English, "For my parents who arrived with nothing but gave me everything."
is the keynote speaker for @thedream_us graduation! “Never Stop Dreaming” - #DrFLOTUS @NevadaState is graduating our first batch of #TheDreamUS scholars @nscpatterson @EdithCabelloFdz #UndocuGrad #NSC pic.twitter.com/E31XagN6Ma — Astrid Silva (@Astrid_NV)
President Biden met with six DACA recipients at the White House
last week, during which the young people
expressed an urgent need for permanent protections for all undocumented immigrants.
DACA recipients have long advocated for permanent protections not only for themselves and others brought to the United States as children, but also for the country's estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Ewaoluwa Ogundana, a DACA recipient graduating from Trinity Washington University in the District of Columbia, spoke about how she and her undocumented peers were “innately overcomers” in a separate speech at Thursday’s event.
According to the organization, more than 1,000 immigrant students affiliated with TheDream.US are expected to graduate this year from 77 colleges spread across more than a dozen states.
Looking back on the previous year, Ogundana stated that “the immigrant community faced threats to their livelihood because of an unjust administration.” She added that after former President Donald Trump
attempted to end the DACA program, their protections were left in limbo because “no one knew which way the case would go.”
“Yet here we are a year later, able to testify about a positive decision on our side, looking back and seeing that we overcame,” the student added, referring to the Supreme Court
ruling that reinstated DACA.
“This struggle of being undocumented is not permanent,” Ogundana said. “I know and continue to hope for that day when we can all share how we overcame and became US citizens.”