Dear Dreamers, Don’t give up

Dear Dreamers, Don’t give up

By Ellen Ratner   
Published
"Dreamers" demonstrate last fall. (TMN file photo)

LOS ANGELES — The DREAM Act, an acronym that stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors, would have given legal status to people known as Dreamers (people brought to the U.S. before they reached the age of 18). But Dreamers were left out of the budget deal this past week.

Many of the Dreamers were angry – not only at Republicans but also at Democrats for not pushing hard enough to help them get recognition and legal status so they could stay in the U.S.

A bipartisan bill was first introduced in the Senate in 2001 by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). It has never passed.

People who do not understand the issue say Dreamers speak the languages of countries to which they are deported. That would be like some of us, who only speak English, being deported to Scotland or Ireland. Yes, they speak English, but it is a foreign culture to those of us who were raised in the United States. Most Dreamers think of themselves as being from the United States. Those young people went to U.S. schools and grew up in U.S. neighborhoods.

Dreamers could be deported. Reuters reported: “[Defense Secretary Mattis said] young unauthorized immigrants serving in the military and protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program will not be deported. He added that the only exceptions were for those who commit ‘serious’ felonies or have deportation orders signed by a judge. There are roughly 800 DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood], also known as ‘DREAMERS,’ currently serving in the military.”

On Friday, United We Dream hosted a conference call in which Dreamers and their advocates spoke about the budget and what is happening to people brought to the U.S. as children. Greisa Martinez Rosas, DACA recipient and advocacy director of United We Dream, said: “Last night, people were betrayed by people of both parties. All undocumented people should be afraid. They crafted a deal to leave us out. Crocodile tears do not save us.”

A DACA mother, Karina Ruiz, said she did not want to be deported. “Congress plays with our lives,” she said. “In December, I was arrested for putting my body on the line.”

Ruiz added: “We need action. March 5th, [the day President Donald Trump ends the DACA program] is a deadline that was arbitrarily created.”

Kica Matos, who is the Center for Community Change’s director of immigrant rights and racial justice, said Congress left immigrant youth and threw them under the bus.

Matos said: “[This is] ‘make America white again.’ … We want Dems and Republicans to feel our pain. Elections are coming up again, and members will feel it in the ballot box in November.”

Following up on what Kica Matos said was MoveOn.org’s Ben Wikler, who warned: “The people in this country are watching. This fight will not end until protection is achieved.”

Angel Padilla, policy director at the Indivisible Project, added: “This is a problem created by Donald Trump. Starting March 5th, 1,000 DACA recipients a day will lose their protection. There have been three spending bills since September, and this morning we lost 73 Democrats. Dreamers will pay the price. We want a real solution.”

What is interesting is that the blame isn’t only reserved for the Republicans. Matos also blamed Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-N.Y.)

One person went even further, blaming Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her eight-hour speech to the House of Representatives.

Patrice S. Lawrence, UndocuBlack Network’s policy and advocacy director, said: “The decision to end DACA was careless. We are fast approaching March 5th. This is based on racism. Pelosi’s job is to get the DREAM act to the floor, not empty words. ICE is reckless, and young people are afraid to drive and walk down the street.”

Karina Ruiz of the Arizona DREAM Act Coalition said: “This is a direct attack on the rights of every human being on the planet. There is always a reaction to an action. We will take back our power. We will not sit back quietly. There is only one way, and it is victory. The time is now. We will not give up.”

The Associated Press summed it up: “Senate Democratic leaders have dropped their strategy of using the funding fight to extract concessions on immigration, specifically on seeking extended protections for the ‘Dreamer’ immigrants.”

My father was an immigrant. Immigrants make our country strong. Some of us don’t want the Dreamers to give up. I hope they don’t.

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