How One DREAMER Is Helping to Fight COVID-19
Dr. Dalia Larios — who saves lives and treats COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Boston — is a DREAMer who, like many other undocumented healthcare professionals, is on the front line fighting the pandemic in the United States. "We have patients that come in and are starting to show signs of difficulty breathing, and within an hour or two, they need to be intubated and they need to be in the ICU. It’s very worrisome," she tells People CHICA. "The elderly are most vulnerable, but we have seen younger patients in their 20s and 30s with COVID as well."
The 30-year-old graduate of Harvard Medical School says her biggest source of inspiration is her hardworking parents. "My father works in construction, my mom cleans houses, and seeing them go to work every day and devote themselves in such a passionate way to what they do is what instilled in me a passion to be a good student and to focus," she says. "I always loved science and wanted to help others, especially the Latino community. That’s what led me to a career in medicine."
Dr. Larios came to the U.S. when she was 10 years old and grew up in Arizona with the fear of her parents being deported back to Mexico. "Something that was very common were raids. I knew from a very young age what ICE was and the fear of having my parents potentially be taken away. That was incredibly frightening," she recalls. "I have two younger siblings and there were times when I felt so scared that my parents wouldn’t come home from work, thinking that morning when I said bye to them would be the last time I saw them. I didn’t show it because I didn’t want to scare my younger siblings."
She has managed to study and work in the United States, like other undocumented immigrants, under the protection of DACA. "It’s a very stressful place to be in. Growing up there are many challenges with having this status and being so vulnerable. You are constantly worried about your next step," she says. "Now that I am a doctor and I know that DACA is being debated at the Supreme Court level, I wonder, will I still have a job in six months?"
Dr. Larios asks that we value the essential contributions of DREAMers to America now more than ever. "Over 27,000 DREAMers are within the healthcare field at various different levels — doctors, nurses, technicians —and right now we’re at a point where we need everyone," she says. "That’s work that really should be recognized, especially during this time, because there is a risk every day getting up and going to the hospital and caring for other people. We’re happy to take on this risk, we want to do it, this is what we trained for, this is the reason we worked so hard — we want to help. It would be really amazing if that could be acknowledged and recognized by individuals who are deciding our lives."
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the official website of the CDC.