LOS ANGELES – At a press conference Wednesday, Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and a broad coalition in support of the Dream Act called on Congressional Democrats to withhold their support of a budget deal unless protections for Dreamers are enacted.
With a federal budget deadline just a few days away and Republicans needing the support of Democrats to keep the federal government running, Senator de León urged Democrats on Capitol Hill to hold fast.
“It’s time to put your money where your mouth is,” he said. “Republicans will need your vote to keep the federal government operating. So when that time comes: No Dream, No Deal!”
Joining Senator de León at Wednesday’s press conference was: Katie Garcia, a DACA beneficiary; Michele Siqueiros, President, Campaign for College Opportunity; Hilary Norton, Chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Business Federation; Jenny Seon, Immigrant Rights Project Director, Korean Resource Center; Robbie Rodriguez, Program Director, Equality California; Sandra Diaz, Vice President and Political Director, SEIU-USWW; Claudia Estrada Powell, who represents the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles; Raquel Parra, Campaign Associate with Courage Campaign; and Kevin Liu, Immigration Project Legal Advocate, Advancing Justice – LA.
There are nearly 800,000 Dreamers in the United States with about one third of them living in California. Under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program they were allowed to continue to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation.
On September 5, President Trump rescinded DACA, once again placing hundreds of thousands of young men and women – here through no fault of their own – in danger of being deported to countries they have little or no memory of.
Michele Siqueiros, President of the Campaign for College Opportunity added, “Our country was founded on immigrant dreams, and immigrants have been critical to the success of our democracy and economy. Our country cannot afford to lose the talent young immigrants and DACA beneficiaries provide our nation. Despite their status there is only one country they know and love, and that’s the United States of America. We urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act so that our economy won’t suffer the loss of over $1.5 billion in tax revenue, and because it is the morally right thing to do.”
Senator de León chastised Democrats for failing to pass comprehensive immigration reform when they controlled Congress, creating the current crisis that threatens Dreamers and all hard-working undocumented immigrants who are so vital to our economy.
“It’s time to stop pandering and start delivering results,” he said. “We can’t claim to be the party that fights for immigrants and people of color if we don’t back it up with action when it counts.”
Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California added, “Dreamers are a vital part of the civil rights movement in this country. Tens of thousands of LGBTQ Dreamers call California home, and many lead the fight for immigrant and LGBTQ rights, even with the constant uncertainty they face as Congress debates immigration reform. Dreamers have built their lives in America, and they deserve to live without the fear of suddenly being torn from their families and sent to a country they may not even remember.”
Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Los Angeles said, “There are roughly 1.5 million undocumented Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) currently living in the United States, of which an estimated 152,000 are eligible for the DACA program. Of this, we know that only 20 percent of eligible AAPIs have applied for DACA. We need to lift the stigma and shame that often comes with the status of being undocumented and the lack of action by Congress on a clean DREAM Act only pushes undocumented community members back into the shadows, jeopardizing their livelihood and futures in the only country they know as home.”
“California Democrats have an obligation to their constituents to oppose any long-term spending bill that does not include a fix for DACA. With more than three dozen Republicans in the House of Representatives endorsing the Dream Act and saying it must be done by the end of the year, it is disappointing to see that not every member of California’s Democratic Congressional delegation have not yet gone on record saying the same,” added Tim Molina, organizing director of the California-based Courage Campaign. “Making sure immigrants who grew up in our communities aren’t deported isn’t a bargaining chip, it is part of our core values as Californians and Americans. We expect California Democrats in Congress to stand up for those values, and will hold any member of our delegation who doesn’t accountable.”
Celinda M. Vázquez, Vice President of Public Affairs with Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles County added, “At Planned Parenthood we believe that no one’s health should be compromised because of their immigration status. We believe that all people deserve the highest quality of care no matter what – no matter who they are, where they live, what their income is, or what their immigration status is. We know that being undocumented can contribute to a culture of fear and keeps too many from seeking the lifesaving care they need. The repeal of DACA only further escalates this fear and creates more barriers to care. Planned Parenthood believes that health has no borders and we proudly stand with dreamers.”