Although the typical partisan sniping on Capitol Hill was just getting started in Washington before President Obama’s statement this afternoon, a few blocks from the White House young undocumented immigrants watched the speech beaming with joy and pride in America.
Following the president’s speech there was a touching emotional moment as Gaby Pacheco, a 27-year-old DREAM Act advocate, stood and let out a sigh of relief then spoke from the heart before the group which had assembled at the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Pacheco praised volunteers and workers and singled out Jose Antonio Vargas, the Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who revealed last year that he was an undocumented immigrant in a New York Times essay.
Vargas is featured on the cover of this week’s Time Magazine with other undocumented immigrants in a story titled, “We are Americans.”
Pacheco has lived in the United States for two decades, arriving in Miami with her family from Ecuador. She plans to become a doctor.
“When we have the Time magazine article that shows our beautiful faces, an array, men, women people from all over the world…representing people that want to be psychologists and doctors and dancers and artists, saying give us a chance. Today we are finally free.” Pacheco said.
“We’ve been in this golden cage and the door has been opened and now it’s our chance to be free. But with that comes a responsibility, because this not forever, this is temporary.” Pacheco said.
“With that comes the responsibility to our parents, right, because our parents gave everything to come to this nation. Our parents did everything, they left behind their family, their language, their careers, everything they knew to give us an opportunity. To give us that American dream that everybody comes to this Nation seeking.” Pacheco told the crowd of DREAM Act advocates.
“We have a responsibility to our friends, to our family members who have been left out. My sister who is over the age of 30, she is a dreamer. And we have a responsibility to her,” Pacheco said, referencing the age limit of undocumented immigrants being given deportation relief if they are younger than 30 and have no criminal record.
Directing remarks to her friend, 31-year old Jose Antonio Vargas, Gaby continued, “We have a responsibility to a man that made this possible. We have a responsibility to him and to this nation to continue fighting. We are going to celebrate today.”
“Because this is the power that our community has. We can no longer be ignored…this is a new chapter in the history of this country. This is a very historic moment and we have to embrace it and celebrate it and thank those that made it possible.” she told with tears in her eyes.
“This is not over, this is the beginning of a great new chapter in our lives. I am going to continue personally my education. I going to be Dr. Pacheco,” she said as the room cheered for her.
Looking to the future and the American dream Pacheco said, “You’ll see from this group of people future congressmen, future senators, and maybe we’ll challenge the constitution and maybe get a future President…because we believe in this nation and we believe this is our country and we believe that we have a lot to give and our talents to give back. But we want to thank those that made it possible.”
Speaking to Vargas she said. “You have redefined America, you have…and we thank you for everything,” she said before hugging Vargas.
Vargas who is 31 and is not covered by today’s announcement, wiped the tears from his eyes and said, “she was the first person I told before the New York Times essay last summer…”
Vargas who noted in the Time article that quietly trying to live in America, while working as a journalist weighed on him. “I carried your heart with me…I carried it…we’ve been through a lot together, there is a lot more to do because this is not complete. And together this is beyond politics, this is beyond partisanship, this is about doing the right thing.”
“I thank you for your leadership and I think you for your sacrifices and thank you for welcoming me.” Vargas told the group.