Manuel continued his education at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he graduated summa cum laude with a minor in biology and chemistry. At university, Manuel worked as a medical scribe for doctors in the emergency room of a small community hospital in Chattanooga. After this experience, he decided that he wanted to become an emergency room doctor himself.
Manuel chose to study medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch University School of Medicine. He was one of dozens of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients at Stritch, the first medical school to admit DACA students.
Today, Manuel is a resident of the emergency room at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago, one of the busiest trauma hospitals on the south side of Chicago. He has been especially busy during the Covid-19 public health pandemic.
As Manuel has been risking his life caring for countless coronavirus-ill Illinoisans, his own future has been in the balance: For nearly three years, President Donald Trump has pushed his fight to repeal DACA all the way to the Supreme Court.
Fortunately, last week, the Supreme Court brought a smile and a sigh of relief to Manuel and 650,000 to 700,000 young people like him in the United States.
Manuel can continue working and living in the United States without fear of being deported … at least for now.
You see, the fight continues to give these DACA recipients, commonly known as Dreamers, a future in the only country they know as their home. Although this landmark Supreme Court ruling is a step in the right direction, it does not solidify the future of these young immigrants.
Almost 20 years ago, I introduced the bipartisan Dream Act with then-Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. This bill gives Dreamers a path to citizenship. He passed the Democratic-controlled House in 2010, but failed with just a few votes in the Senate. Then it was passed by the Senate in 2013 as part of the comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives never brought to a vote.
Sadly, for decades, Dreamers like Manuel have lived in immigration purgatory due to the inability of Congress to muster the courage to solve this problem. The president's hateful rhetoric, failure to protect the Dreamers, and an inclination to use immigration to divide us have only worsened the political climate to solve the DACA problem once and for all.
Hypothetically speaking, Trump could try to revoke DACA again tomorrow if he wants to. In fact, last week, Trump tweeted
"We will shortly be sending improved documents to properly comply with the ruling and yesterday's request from the Supreme Court."
As President Trump considers what to do next, you should know that more than 200,000 Dreamers are essential employees and more than 40,000 are health workers, like Manuel. It would be an American tragedy, facing this national emergency, to lose these brave and talented young men. They are saving lives every day and risking theirs to do so.
It is up to Congress to ensure that Manuel and tens of thousands of others in our core workforce are not forced to stop working while his services are needed now more than ever.
The bipartisan American Dream and Promise Act has been pending in the Senate to do nothing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for more than a year. You could bring this bill up for debate and vote and give hundreds of thousands of dreamers a real chance to leave their life in limbo and become citizens of this great country. Last Monday, the entire Democratic Senate Caucus asked him to do exactly that.
As long as I am a United States Senator, I will continue to go to the Senate floor to advocate for Manuel and other dreamers like him who simply want a chance to prove themselves and win their way to America's future. These young immigrants are what America is all about, and they are worth it regardless of the odds.
As a pandemic threatens our public health and our economy in unimaginable ways, these Dreamers have intensified in our time of great need. It is high time that we do the same for them.