Durbin Shares Story Of DACA Recipient Attending Loyola University Chicago's Medical School

[WASHINGTON, DC] – With just 17 days until the short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security expires, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) came to the Senate Floor today to urge Senate Republicans to abandon efforts to play politics with the lives of young people impacted by immigration policies like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). During his speech, Durbin shared the story of Johana Mejias, who is currently enrolled at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine – the first medical school in the country to openly accept DACA recipients. Johana has been able to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor because of the creation of the DACA program.

Johana Mejias was brought to the United States from Venezuela when she was a child.  She grew up in Boulder, Colorado.  Johana played on her high school softball team, played viola in the orchestra, and dreamed of becoming a doctor. In 2011, Johana graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a double major in Molecular, Cellular, and Development Biology, and Psychology-Neuroscience. After graduating from college, Johana was unable to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, because she was undocumented. When DACA was established by President Obama in 2012, Mejias began medical school at Loyola University Chicago. After she graduates she has committed to stay in Illinois to practice in medically-underserved communities.

“Isn’t that an amazing story? That a young girl would come here, realize she was undocumented, fight her way through to a bachelor’s degree in these challenging subjects, continuing to keep alive the dream that maybe – just maybe – something will happen to give her a chance to become a doctor,” Durbin said. “What an amazing story – an amazing story that will come to a bitter end if the Republicans have their way on this bill. The Republican answer to Johana – after all of her life’s work and all of her dreams fulfilled – is ‘leave America’. They are prepared to deport her and 600,000 just like her.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks today on the Senate Floor is available here.

In addition to Johana’s story, Durbin shared the stories of Loyola University Chicago medical school students Everarado Arias, Aaima Sayed and Pablo da Silva last week on the Senate Floor.


Everardo was brought to the United States from Mexico in 1997, when he was seven years old.  He grew up in California and became an excellent student. When Everardo was a sophomore, he met with a counselor who told him he had no chance of becoming a doctor, because he was undocumented. Everardo didn’t give up on his dream. Shortly after he graduated from the University of California Riverside with a chemistry major with research honors, President Obama established the DACA program. After he received DACA, Everardo worked as a health educator through Americorps and, now, is in his first year at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. In his free time, he volunteers at a local clinic where he provides medical care to the uninsured and underinsured. Video of Durbin telling Everardo’s story is available HERE.


Aaima Sayed was brought to the United States from Pakistan when she was only 3-years-old. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class, and went on to Rutgers University. Aaima took the Medical College Admission Test – the MCAT’s – and scored in the 90th percentile, better than 90 percent of those who took the test. Shortly after Aaima graduated, President Obama announced the DACA program. Because of DACA, Aaima is now a medical student at Loyola University Chicago, pursuing her dream of becoming a physician – after she graduates, she will work in a medically-underserved area of Illinois. Video of Durbin telling Aaima’s story is available HERE.


Pablo da Silva was brought to the United States from Brazil in 2001, when he was 13 years old. Pablo was an excellent student and he dreamed of becoming a doctor.  During high school and college, Pablo volunteered at a nursing home every week. After being accepted at Rutgers University he was told he couldn’t qualify for financial aid because he was undocumented. He decided to attend community college and completed a two-year associate’s degree in only one year. Pablo then transferred to Kean University, and in 2011 he graduated at the top of his class with a major in biology summa cum laude.  He received an award for the highest grade point average in the biology department. Last fall, Pablo da Silva began medical school at Loyola University Chicago, where he is pursuing his dream of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Video of Durbin telling Pablo’s story is available HERE.


In August 2014, Durbin attended at event welcoming the first seven DACA medical students to Loyola. Photos from that event are available here, and video is available here.


Over the last few years, Durbin, the original sponsor of the DREAM Act, has shared the stories of more than fifty Dreamers on the Senate Floor.  In April 2010, Durbin was the first member of Congress to call for the establishment of DACA. Since House Republicans have threatened to eliminate DACA, Durbin has been updating the Senate regularly on the accomplishments and contributions of Dreamers who have received DACA. This year, Durbin has continued this tradition by updating the Senate about several Dreamers who are using DACA to give back to the country they love.


More information about these Dreamers’ stories – and the stories of every Dreamer Durbin has spoken about on the Senate Floor – is available here.