On a chilly and gray afternoon in the Chicago suburb of Maywood, 12 of the 28 students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine gathered to share with AMA President Andrew W. Gurman, MD, their fears of deportation and the loss of DACA protections that could deny their dreams of becoming physicians.

“I really came to listen,” said Dr. Gurman, a hand surgeon from Altoona, Pa. “I cannot even begin to fathom your stories, the angst that you face and that your families face. The AMA is absolutely committed to supporting you, to supporting equity, diversity, freedom, opportunity … and we advocate on your behalf.”

The students at Stritch were born in countries all over the world: South Korea, Guatemala, the U.K., Mexico, Trinidad and India; but all of these students identify as Americans because they call nowhere else in the world “home.”

One student, Belsy Garcia, was born in Guatemala, but at age 7 was brought by her parents to Georgia—where she grew up and completed high school.

“And then I started seeing the limitations that come with being undocumented, the restrictions on the opportunities that you get,” Garcia told Dr. Gurman. And she didn’t think an undergraduate degree was possible.

“No funding whatsoever, but I think my parents instilled in me that hard work ethic, and that you should fight, right?” she said. “Just give it all you’ve got and see where that leads. With that thinking, I was able to graduate undergrad.”

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