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Pittsburgh Dreamers Share Stories As DACA Deadline Approaches

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A group of local Dreamers are asking the Trump administration to give them a chance to stay as a big deadline quickly approaches.

Dreamers here in Pittsburgh, as well as nationwide, are asking for a clear path to citizenship, and the Mayor's office invited those Dreamers to tell their stories Thursday morning.

"I didn't choose to be illegal. I didn't really have a choice. I just chose to live," DACA recipient Fan Ding said.

Ding's powerful story of survival was one of many shared outside City Council chambers. Ding lives with a rare genetic disorder, and she came to Pittsburgh from China illegally at the age of 12 to stay alive.

"I started treatment on the enzyme replacement therapy, and I've been on it since... it's been 20 some years, and it's exactly what I needed in my body," she said.

Ding's parents brought her for treatment to Children's Hospital in 1996. They used a visa then, but after that expired, she chose to stay behind for treatment.

She's now a recipient of DACA -- temporary paperwork for the children of parents who entered the country illegally.

"It's been five years since I received DACA. I've finished my master's degree, got a driver's license, bought my first car, got my first home... I work for a pharmaceutical company, right now, who also sells the drug that I inject every two weeks," Ding said.

Mayor Bill Peduto invited Ding and several others to give a face to the immigration debate.

"Mayors throughout this country, Democrat and Republican, are standing together in support of this because of what it means on a local level," Peduto said. "These are Pittsburghers, and we want to make sure they have the same rights as all Pittsburghers."

Critics of DACA, or "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," argue that Democrats are using DACA to push political ideals.

To that, Peduto said, "Ronald Reagan supported Dreamers. George Bush supported Dreamers. It's only in these crazy days that we're in right now where this has become a political issue and not a humanitarian issue."

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