David Adame traveled back and forth from Hilton Head Island to Columbia, juggling food service jobs while trying to make it as a student at the University of South Carolina.
Paying out-of-state tuition as an immigrant who arrived illegally as a child, Adame was unable to continue at the four-year school. He plans to enroll at Technical College of the Lowcountry and continue to study nursing while advocating for others like himself in Beaufort County’s Latino community.
He wants those here under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a federal policy enacted by then-president Barack Obama in 2012, to be eligible for in-state tuition. Adame said he came to Hilton Head from the west coast of Mexico when he was 4.
He was among dozens who rallied outside U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford’s office Tuesday in support of immigration and refugee issues.
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The rally was hosted by the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition and Beaufort County chapters of Indivisible, a nationwide movement to oppose Trump’s policies. More than 60 people joined the rally, lining the sidewalks while carrying or wearing homemade signs.
“Save DACA,” “My Home is America,” “No wall. Fix SC roads instead,” the signs read.
George Kanuck, co-chairman of the immigration coalition, presented Sanford’s Beaufort staff with a letter asking for a meeting with the congressman and for his positions on the future of DACA and Trump’s plans to build a border wall and broaden immigration enforcement. Kanuck noted that the coalition had asked Sanford about immigration issues when the congressman visited the Latino community after Hurricane Matthew and was told it wasn’t the right time.
“Today is that day,” Kanuck shouted outside Sanford’s office, to a cheer from the crowd.
Sanford was voting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, his staff said.
Someone at the rally asked Sanford representative Sarah Kimball when the congressman would be in town. She replied that the visit would depend on his schedule and that someone would be in touch with the group.
Questions to Sanford’s staff were referred to his Washington office. His press secretary Scott Jeffrey said a meeting will be scheduled as soon as it’s convenient for everyone involved.
Rally organizers urged the group to remain positive and noted that Sanford’s staff had been helpful.
Port Royal resident Kathryn Marrero wore a T-shirt she made for a women’s march in Beaufort in January. Her father was born in Cuba, lived in Mexico and was brought to the U.S. at age 15 by his brother and later became a doctor, Marrero said.
“My father would have been DACA,” she said.
Adame said he wasn’t rallying with a partisan agenda. Representing a group called United South Carolina, Adame said he wants to lessen the strain for students who didn’t have a choice in entering the country illegally and have lived here long enough to earn the financial benefits of other South Carolina residents.
He attended public schools, graduating from Hilton Head Island High School in 2014. The state offering DACA students in-state tuition makes economic sense, he argued during the rally.
“I’m not asking for a handout here,” he said.