Dreamers rally for clean Dream Act amid bill's uncertain future
Dreamers like Lendale Vazquez spoke about the importance of DACA and how it has personally affected their lives.
The speakers encouraged the crowd gathered at the State House to use their influence by spreading the word on social media about a clean Dream Act.
Nina Grey has been involved with OFA in other states and says the organization cares very much about immigration justice. She said she’s honored to participate in the National Day of Action and be a part of something bigger to make a difference.
Caroline Davenport CAROLINA REPORTER & NEWS
Supporters rallied at the State House Nov. 9 for the National Day of Action for Dreamers and the Dream Act of 2017, which aids undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
Organizing for Action Columbia sponsored the event alongside local partners Palmetto Luna Arts, Carolina Peace Resource Center and Indivisible Midlands.
“We want Congress to pass a clean Dream Act, an act that is not part of a bigger bill filled with unjust actions like funding a wall, and we want it now,” said Nina Grey, chapter leader of OFA Columbia.
The crowd chanted “Clean Dream Act now” over and over in response to Grey’s message.
The goal of the rally was to bring awareness to the Dream Act’s status and to hear from the undocumented immigrant children who are directly affected by it. Those attending were encouraged to spread the word by writing postcards to representatives and use hashtags #DreamActNow and #HeretoStay on social media. Dreamers shared their stories with the hopes of getting more people involved to contact legislatures.
On Sept. 5, President Trump reversed the executive order former President Obama put in place that protected young people from deportation who came to the United States with their family before age 16. It’s up to Congress to pass a replacement bill before the protections expire or many could face deportation as early as March 6.
“We’re here because we want to defend what is right to defend,” said Laura Cahue, director for Grassroots Alliance for Immigration Rights.
Cahue has held numerous meetings with immigrants in their homesin South Carolina and says many live infear of the “mass deportation machine” in our country. “When we knock on a door, the faces that greet us are our faces. We see ourselves,” she said.
The guests spoke of the family unity rooted in the immigrant community, encouraging supporters to persevere and remain steadfast until a clean bill passes in Congress.
“Find the courage to reject any proposed legislation that inflicts more pain and family separation in our community,” Cahue said. “I am asking you to say loud and clear, all of us or none of us.”
Lendale Vazquez, one of the Dreamers, was invigorated by the crowd that turned up despite the dismal weather. She wanted to be a voice in a sea of 800,000 Dreamers in America that are fighting for a revised Dream Act.
“I have 321 days left of my DACA, but not all of us are that lucky,” she said, recalling a friend who’s legal status expires soon and fears she won’t be able to work to help her mother without it. “Hopefully we have that Christmas miracle and they decide to give us what we need. A clean Dream Act, a Dream Act for everybody, with no buts ands or ifs.”
Those that showed up to take part in this national movement paralleled the passion of the Dreamers.
Xochilt Martinez attended to support those with and without DACA, but especially to support her sister. “It just means everything to us to support DACA because without it, many immigrants wouldn’t be able to pay state taxes or live their dreams to go out and explore, or to visit long-lost relatives,” she said. “No matter what happens we’re glad we’re out here to support it.”
“Many don’t realize how important it is to the DACA supporters. Without it they wouldn’t have work permits or be able to drive, or they might get scared to go out because they don’t have DACA,” Martinez explained. “A driver’s license or work permits especially. Without work permits they can’t help their families out.”
Grey says the future that Dreamers have been building is at risk if the bill doesn’t pass soon. One of OFA’s major causes is immigration justice and keeping Congress accountable to those depending on the protection of DACA.
“I’ve had a chance to stand alongside and be an ally and supporter to help move this forward for the sake of the justice for these people and also the ways in which their gifts and contributions enrich all our lives,” Grey said. “People need to know these young people are Americans, and deserve to live in the way the rest of us are able to live in freedom, out of the shadows, and they need to know that these young dreamers deserve to feel safe and to pursue their American dreams.”