This past Tuesday, you and I passed the Dream and Promise Act in the House of Representatives. You, me and all the other UWD members. We created this moment.
As we fight to end ICE and CBP as we know them, stop deportations and build local power, passing the Dream and Promise Act through the House of Representatives this week was one more step on the stairway to freedom and reminded me of the power of big ideas and organizing.
The bill sets a new standard for immigration reform bills and the Dream Act many of us knew will never be the same. For the first time in nine years, we passed legislation through a chamber of Congress that protects immigrants and does not increase enforcement harms. And the coolest thing about it is that many provisions were created by immigrant youth ourselves.
I was there in the Capitol building when it happened - surrounded by United We Dream members, immigrant youth, TPS and DED holders who held hands as we watched Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Member of Congress who was formerly undocumented, announce that our bill had passed the House of Representatives.
We filled the chamber with our cheers and claps - in an institution created to keep people of color, women, LGBTQ individuals OUT. We made the House shake with our chant of “Si Se Puede!”
And we weren’t there just as witnesses to the moment - we were there as creators of this moment.
It took deep planning and dreaming big. It took hundreds of Capitol Hill and in-district meetings and takeovers since 2017, hundreds of community meetings, thousands of calls, cross-country bus rides, trainings, and courageously telling our stories to get us here.
At the beginning of his presidency, Trump demanded a wall, thousands more ICE and CBP agents and the expansion of detention camps throughout the country. And then the terminations of DACA, TPS, and DED happened. Since then the attacks haven’t stopped.
But even though we were pressured to take protections for ourselves no matter what the cost, United We Dream Members insisted that others be protected too and now the bill is about undocumented immigrant youth, DACA, TPS and DED holders. Key provisions in the bill which will shape the future include:
- Relief for undocumented immigrant youth, TPS and DED holders who have been deported or forced to self-deport during the Trump Administration
- Expands relief to youth who did not qualify for DACA and came to the U.S. before the age of 18
- Access to federal financial aid for school and work study for anyone who qualifies for conditional permanent resident status
- Waiver of misdemeanors related to marijuana, civil disobedience and minor traffic offenses
- Unprecedented, guaranteed access to counsel when appealing a denial by DHS
The progress we made together is real and the Senate needs to bring up and pass this bill. But we also need all Members of Congress to stop funding ICE and CBP and end their reign of terror. Let’s defund hate.
Because we know that our liberation is not tied to any one piece of legislation, we will keep organizing and building until all of our people can live without fear and thrive.