WASHINGTON D.C. – During a day of action in Washington yesterday (advisory here), Dreamers from across the country demanded that Democratic leaders fight for broad executive action and administrative relief for immigrant families.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill; direct actions in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY); and a rally in front of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters, Dreamers sent the message that their families cannot and should not be asked to wait. Instead, they need relief and reform now.
“Democrats have done everything possible to pass immigration reform legislation this Congress, but now need to bring that same exhaustive pressure to fight for administrative relief and reform for our families,” said Lorella Praeli, Director of Advocacy & Policy at UWD. “We are pressing for action now and are prepared to hold Democratic leaders accountable on delivering for our families.”
Increasingly, leading Democrats seem to recognize that the window is rapidly closing on legislative action this Congress – and are signaling their intention to fight for broad executive action and affirmative relief once the legislative prospects are officially dead. For example, the office of Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) told the Wall Street Journal last week, “If the House continues to drag its feet we encourage the administration to pursue its efforts to prevent these innocent families from being ripped apart.” And today, Senator Schumer said on the Senate floor that President Obama should take executive action if the House refuses to act on legislation this summer: “The president would be more than justified in acting anytime after recess begins to take whatever changes he feels are necessary to make our immigration system work better for those unfairly burdened by our broken laws.”
Yesterday’s actions in Washington were the next level of escalation in United We Dream’s We Can’t Wait campaign, created to address the growing moral crisis of family separation and deportations created by President Obama’s immigration enforcement machine. This administration has removed more than 2 million people from the country, more than any other president in history. UWD is pressing for executive action now – not vague promises of future support – and is highlighting the urgency and need for executive action and affirmative relief by featuring the stories of those directly affected:
Imelda Valenzuela, a mother from Denver who is currently in deportation proceedings, was one of the speakers at yesterday’s press conference on Capitol Hill: “It feels like I’m having everything taken away,” Valenzuela said. “I’ve been fighting for five years and I know that my months here are numbered, so I’m here demanding that President Obama do more for us, the parents of Dreamers.”
Julieta Garibay, a leader and co-founder from United We Dream, shared stories of people currently in detention or deportation proceedings to highlight the cost of continued inaction from the administration (see stories here). Said Garibay, “Today, undocuwarriors stand here to demand that Democrats stand with our families. It is not enough to have voted for immigration reform,” said Julieta Garibay, a leader and co-founder from United We Dream. “Ultimately, our community will not judge or stand by you based on good intentions. We demand action.”
“We stand outside of here because my mom still lives in fear of being separated from her family,” said Rishi Singh, leader with Desis Rising Up and Moving, a UWD affiliate.
“Our shirts say ‘Obama Deports Parents’, and I’m living proof of that,” said Yves Gomes, a Maryland Dreamer who lost both of his parents to deportation and who’s a member of the Maryland Dream Youth Committee (MDYC), a UWD affiliate. “Just last week, I missed out on spending mother’s day with my mom for another year.”