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‘Dreamer’ Doctors Fear Deportation Under Trump Migrant Crackdown

Belsy Garcia Manrique (left) and Cesar Montelongo are classmates at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Having entered the U.S. as children of undocumented immigrants, they worked hard and long toward their dream of a medical career, but now fear deportation under President Trump.

The past few years have been an emotional roller coaster for Belsy Garcia Manrique.

The 26-year-old undocumented immigrant from Guatemala studied biology, chemistry and math at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, with little hope of becoming a doctor, her dream job.

Then, in 2012, President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gave hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people like Manrique who came to the U.S. as children access to work permits in the United States and a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation. While it was not a path to citizenship, they could live openly and start careers that matched their potential.

“It was exciting,” said Manrique, who speaks with a warm Southern drawl. “It was that feeling of, things are going to change, they’re going to get better.”

Now in her second year at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Manrique is once again filled with uncertainty. While campaigning, Donald Trump pledged to dismantle DACA. He has since said he’ll “work something out” for people covered by DACA. But amid reports of immigration sweeps and the arrest of at least one DACA recipient, many of the nation’s 750,000 DACA beneficiaries are nervous.

The United States is home to some 11 million undocumented immigrants. Though many escaped violence and persecution, particularly in Central America, seeking asylum is not an option if they’ve been in the country longer than one year.

Many DACA recipients – also known as “dreamers” after the DREAM Act, a failed federal legislative proposal to legalize their status – grew up studying hard in school, wanting to believe that academic success would somehow earn them legal status one day. Meanwhile, their parents lived and worked in the shadows.

Now they worry they might get caught in Trump’s immigration dragnet and deported to dangerous countries they hardly know.

“I got too safe and complacent” after DACA, said Manrique, who arrived in the United States when she was seven years old and recalls her mother pulling her across the Rio Grande River in a floating tire. “This election burst that bubble.”

“I’m just trying to prepare for the worst,” she added.

‘DREAMER’ DOCTORS

Manrique’s school, Loyola Stritch, currently has 28 undocumented medical students, more than any other program in the country. About 70 undocumented students are enrolled in medical schools nationwide, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Loyola Stritch was one of the first programs to actively recruit undocumented applicants after DACA was introduced. This is in line with the university’s Jesuit tradition of openness, said Mark Kuczewski, who chairs Loyola Stritch’s department of medical education. It also serves a practical purpose, he added, whereby undocumented students can eventually help fill the United States’ projected shortage of up to 90,400 physicians by 2025.

Loyola Stritch’s first class of DACA enrollees, who matriculated in 2014, are completing their clinical rotations in teaching hospitals. But if DACA is revoked and they lose their work authorization, they will not be able to start medical residencies and move to the next stage of their career.

Many of the students finance their medical education through hundreds of thousands of dollars in private loans – and if they can’t work as doctors, there’s little chance they’ll be able to pay it back.

“These young people are social capital,” said Kuczewski, a bioethics professor. “They’re ambitious, they’re all at least bilingual and bicultural, and they’re incredibly well-suited to serving patient populations that are underserved.”

Manrique’s classmate, Cesar Montelongo, was 10 years old when his family fled to the United States to escape drug-cartel turf wars in their hometown of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous cities. They crossed the U.S. border legally and overstayed their tourist visas.

It took more than a decade for a family-sponsored visa application submitted by Montelongo’s American uncle to be approved, by which time Montelongo and his sister were too old to qualify as part of the family.

A joint MD-PhD candidate in Loyola Stritch’s highly competitive program, Montelongo says that without DACA his only option to legalize his status would be to apply for a visa through his younger brother, who was born in the United States. This will take about 20 years at current rates. By then, Montelongo would be nearly 50, and he could face deportation in the meantime.

“There is so much good I can do in that time,” said Montelongo, whose bioinformatics research is aimed at developing tools for more personalized medicine through genome sequencing and transcription. “It’d be a loss not to perform to my potential until 20 years from now.”

Both Manrique and Montelongo said they were drawn to medicine because their undocumented status meant their families went without health insurance. They couldn’t afford to see doctors until their illnesses were too severe to ignore.

IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN

Growing up in Calhoun, Georgia, Manrique feared random daytime phone calls that could signal trouble for her undocumented parents.

The dreaded call finally came in 2011. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested Manrique’s father at their home and detained him after they raided employment records at the carpet factory where he worked. A lawyer saved him from deportation.

With Trump’s recent executive actions on immigration, Manrique said, “I’m worried about my parents all the time. It’s terrifying.”

Two days before Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven countries and halting refugee resettlement, which is currently suspended by the courts, the U.S. president issued another order that has caused widespread alarm among undocumented immigrants.

The January 25 order greatly expands the definition of who is considered a criminal and therefore a target for deportation. It prioritizes removal of undocumented immigrants who have “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense,” regardless of whether they’ve been charged or convicted of a crime.

Even if Trump does not end the DACA program, hundreds of DACAbeneficiaries could be subject to deportation under the expanded definition, said attorney Leon Fresco, who headed the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Immigration under President Obama. At particular risk are DACA recipients with outstanding orders of removal from the country. Any run-in with the law they might have had, however minor, could endanger their reprieve from deportation under DACA.

“There is a 100 percent guarantee that some will have their DACA status revoked and they’ll be deported,” Fresco said. “It could happen any moment.”

Universities, municipal governments and workplaces across the country are setting up legal defense funds and hotlines to protect undocumented people from deportation. Loyola Stritch brought in an immigration lawyer to speak with students about their rights.

Meanwhile, the American Medical Association and Loyola Stritch are lobbying for a bipartisan bill that would grant temporary legal status to DACA beneficiaries if Trump does away with the program.

DACA is inherently a short-term solution,” Montelongo said. “And now there’s really going to be no long-term solution. Staying in this limbo is the best we can hope for.”

 

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John McCain: Attacking The Free Press Is ‘How Dictators Get Started’

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) gave a staunch defense of the free press Saturday, noting that attacks on the media are “how dictators get started.” Speaking on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” to be aired Sunday, McCain took a swipe at President Donald Trump’s volleys against the Fourth Estate, particularly a Friday tweet in which the press was called the “enemy of the American people.”

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes@NBCNews@ABC@CBS@CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

“We need a free press,” said the 2008 Republican presidential candidate. “We must have it. It’s vital.” 

“If you want to preserve ― I’m very serious now ― if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” he added.

McCain said that without a free press, “we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time.”

“That’s how dictators get started,” he added, noting that attacks on journalists questioning those in power are a tactic used by autocratic governments.

“When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press,” he said. “I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”

“A fundamental part of that new world order was a free press,” he added. “I hate the press; I hate you especially,” McCain quipped. “But the fact is we need you.”

Trump has ratcheted up his assaults against media organizations in recent weeks, culminating in a belligerent press conference Thursday in which he excoriated the members of the press as “fake news.”

McCain, in Germany for the Munich Security conference, has unleashed a series of thinly veiled attacks on the White House.

In a speech before the conference, he slammed a “hardening resentment” toward “immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims” and asked world leaders not to give up on America despite the country’s current politics.

During a question-and-answer, the senator said the resignation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, showed the administration was “in disarray.

 

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Trump Vineyard Requests Visas For Still More Foreign Workers

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While Donald Trump rails against immigrants and foreign workers taking away American jobs, the Trump Vineyard Estates has filed yet another request for visas for foreign farm workers at its Virginia winery.

The application filed last week asks for H-2 worker visa for 23 laborers at $11.27 an hour from April through October this year.

In December Trump Vineyard Estates also filed an application with the Department of Labor seeking six visas that would allow the company to hire foreign workers for seasonal jobs. That paperwork was submitted just days after Trump leaned on an Indiana company not to ship American jobs to Mexico.

The workers will be employed by the Trump Winery, according to Buzzfeed, which is owned by Donald Trump’s son, Eric. The winery’s website says it is a registered trade name of Eric Trump Wine Manufacturing LLC and is “not owned, managed or affiliated with Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization or any of their affiliates.”

But the winery is located on and the visa request was filed by Trump Vineyard Estates LLC, which is listed as part of the real estate portfolio of the Trump Organization, according to its website. When Trump became president he said he would switch management of his companies to his sons but would maintain ownership. Donald Trump revealed in a 2015 campaign financial disclosure filing that Trump Vineyard Estates had earned him $150,000 to $1.1 million, Politico reported at the time.

Trump also boasted at a campaign event last year featuring bottles from the Trump Winery — which was reportedly transferred to Eric in 2012 — that “I own it 100 percent — no mortgage, no debt.”

Trump won approval in December to also hire 77 foreign workers at his Mar-a-Lago resort and Jupiter golf course through the H-2B visa program, according to a review of data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows conducted by Vocativ.

CNN reported last summer that Trump companies have employed at least 1,256 foreign workers — most from Romania and South Africa — in the past 15 years. The companies applied to hire 263 foreign workers even after Trump launched his campaign in which he railed against the loss of U.S. jobs to foreign workers.

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Fox News anchor Shep Smith blasts Trump: 'It's absolutely crazy'

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The President took on the media. Now, some at Fox News are responding.

President Trump held a press conference on Thursday that was rather combative toward the media. He repeatedly called out the press for covering what he called "fake news."

Shortly after the press conference, FOX News anchor Shepard Smith hit back hard. "It's crazy what we're watching every day, it's absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous throw away lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question," said Smith.

It's worth pointing out that the president did praise Fox News during the press conference.

"Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it, and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it's happening, and we're fools for asking the questions? No, sir, we're not fools for asking the questions, and we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people," Smith said.

"You call us fake news and put us down like children for asking these questions on behalf of the American people," Smith said. "The people deserve that answer, at very least," he added.

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Barack Obama's Enduring Faith in America

Obama Farewell.

In his farewell address, the president warned of threats to the nation’s tradition of democracy—none more than from inside—and rebuked Donald Trump, but sought to rally the country around shared ideals. In his final speech to the nation as the 44th president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama offered a strong defense of American democracy and pluralism, telling the nation that its form of government relies on goodwill and tolerance.

“Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift,” Obama said. “But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power—with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law.  America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.”

Speaking at McCormick Place in Chicago—just a couple miles south of Grant Park, where he first spoke to the nation as president-elect in November 2008—the president outlined his major accomplishments and thanked voters, his family, and his staff. But Obama also outlined what he saw as a three-pronged threat to American democracy, in a speech that could only be heard as a detailed rebuke of Donald Trump, the man who will replace him in the White House in 10 days’ time.

Obama has always enjoyed playing the role of social theorist, and he took one last opportunity to expound his theory from the bully pulpit. The litany of locations and events he mentioned mapped out his vision of a United States where people of color, women, and gay and lesbian Americans are not simply included but are indeed integral to the identity of the nation—from the founding to Western expansion, the Underground Railroad to “immigrants and refugees” who came across the sea and, pointedly, the Rio Grande, suffragettes to labor organizers, activists who fought for the civil rights of African Americans and LGBT Americans alike, and soldiers from Omaha Beach to Afghanistan.

“That’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional,” Obama said, perhaps settling a score with the critics who once claimed he did not believe in the idea, “not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.”

Yet the nation is fraying, he cautioned. The president argued that the start of the 21st century, from 9/11 attacks to the Great Recession, and implicitly in Trump’s election, had threatened to “rupture [the] solidarity” on which the country rests. The threat came from three corners, he said: unequal economic opportunity; racism and discrimination; and the retreat into bubbles of likeminded individuals.

He warned that indulging fear would endanger a society ordered by Enlightenment ideals of reason, tolerance, and justice. “That order is now being challenged—first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power,” Obama said. “The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile.” He asked the nation to come together in the work of rebuilding American democracy.

“That’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional, not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change.”

But it is not just external threats such as these that pose a danger, he said—so does the temptation to shut out those with different outlooks. “For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions,” Obama said, connecting it to the advent of a media that is not only partisan but riddled with misstatements of fact—and a surfeit of maliciously false news. “We become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”

Obama’s decision to deliver the farewell address before a crowd of adoring supporters represented a continuation of the style in which he campaigned, and the style he has preferred to govern. While most presidents have delivered their final speeches on camera from the White House, Obama has always disliked the Oval Office address, preferring to speak at a lectern in the East Room when he had to, and speak live before a crowd when he could, feeding from its energy.

Most farewell speeches also do not loom large in history. While outgoing presidents may hope that the addresses offer them a chance to shape and solidify their legacies, few are remembered after the fact—perhaps really only two: George Washington’s in 1796, and Dwight Eisenhower’s in 1961, in which he coined the term “the military-industrial complex.”

Obama’s farewell address was, like many of his major speeches, a finely crafted one; he is one of the finest orators and writers to occupy the office. But despite its emphasis on the ideals of the nation going back to the founding, it seemed inexorably linked to the present moment in American history. The speech seemed like a lecture for Trump on what makes America great and a pep talk for Obama’s supporters on the importance of keeping the faith.

“The work of democracy has always been hard. It’s always been contentious. For every two steps forward, It often feels we take one step back.”

“You were the change. You answered people’s hopes,” Obama said, recalling the two buzzwords of his first run for president. But he added: “Our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It’s always been contentious. For every two steps forward, It often feels we take one step back.”

Obama didn’t have to mention Trump’s name for it to be clear to all who he was referring to. Nearly every paragraph in this speech seems to have a line that directly or indirectly answered Trump. He said that American “potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people.” In a quasi-Marxist rejection of race in favor of class, he rejected the nativist claims of the Trump campaign, saying, “If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.” He warned that depriving children of immigrants would only backfire as they came to represent a larger portion of the workforce. The ties of society weaken, he said, “when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.”

In what might have seemed improbable only a few a years ago, one of his biggest applause lines came in a simple restatement of the First Amendment principle of freedom of religion: “That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans.” On climate change, Obama warned Trump and other deniers, “Reality has a way of catching up with you.”

But Obama was not ready to let his own backers off the hook to slip into disconsolation. He called on them to engage with their fellow citizens, saying that while their faith would sometimes be disappointed, it would overall be affirmed. Early in his speech, he hailed the impending peaceful transfer of power to Trump, and scolded members of the crowd who booed or groaned.

As for the president, he was able to keep his composure through most of the speech. It was only in the last minutes of the address, as he thanked the first lady, his daughters, Vice President Joe Biden, and his staff, that the president’s face began to twitch, and he finally had to wipe away a tear. It seemed fitting that the emotional climax of the speech would come at that time—the president’s personal story, his confident and cheerful demeanor, have always been his strongest political asset. Even as his policy legacy teeters on the precipice of destruction, the president remains personally popular, and his decency and family remain widely admired.

And then Obama offered one more callback to his historic 2008 campaign. “Yes we can,” he said. “Yes we did.” And then, once more for the future: “Yes we can.” But will we? At a time when many Americans of all views are more dubious than ever about that proposition, and despite his dire warnings minutes earlier, Obama seemed just as stunningly, serenely confident as he had eight years ago.

“That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change—that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined,” he said. “I hope yours has, too.”

 

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