Calif. Delegation Meets With Dreamers

October 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

California members of Congress were in Los Angeles Wednesday where they held a roundtable discussion with young immigrants currently protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and by Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) — joined by Congress members Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Judy Chu (CA-27), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) and other local leaders — said during a post-discussion press conference at the headquarters of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights CHIRLA, that federal lawmakers are working to pass  “clean” legislation that would give the young immigrants, often referred to as “dreamers,” permanent legal status, but not tied to construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pelosi and the Democrats said by the end of the year they hope to have the votes needed to pass the Dream Act 2017, a bipartisan bill introduced by Roybal-Allard, a Democrat, and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican.

“All we need is to vote,” said Pelosi, adding that “dreamers” have led a dignified crusade to get support for the bill. “The president must support this legislation because the American people are supporting it,” Pelosi said.

Twenty Republican votes are needed to move the Dream Act forward, according to Pelosi, who pointed out that some of the votes belong to Republicans from California. She said it’s a “marathon race” to the goal, suggesting that a vote could come before Thanksgiving Day.

Roybal-Allard said failure to pass the Dream Act would cause dreamers, who “have lived in this country” … and “built their lives here,” to “continue to live in fear of deportation, and … to “live in a world where they will not be able to grow and to contribute to their communities.”

“They gave their information, they signed up for DACA, believing in this country. And to do anything else but to protect them by passing the Dream Act is a betrayal, and would be a disgrace and a very ugly mark on this country,” Roybal-Allard said.

For Congressman Jimmy Gomez, who represents a large number of dreamers, Pelosi’s remarks are not only about a political strategy but also about public opinion in the country, including among conservatives.

“We know that 82 percent of Americans support ‘dreamers’, the debate will not end until this bill has been approved,” Gomez said.

“Definitely, the only weapon is to put pressure on these (Republican) congressmen who have already expressed their support and are repenting,” said DACA recipient and roundtable participant Mariana Villafaña.

Although Villafaña is not completely convinced public opinion can change the minds of Republicans, she believes the key is to target districts whose legislators are at risk of losing their seat to a Democrat.

CHIRLA Executive Director Angélica Salas asked that the immigrant community to not miss this “crucial” moment and to continue the struggle for “dreamers.”

Pelosi said she understands the frustration of dreamers who say they reject any strategy to legalize their status that does not also include legalization for all 11 million immigrants in the country without authorization, but stressed that as of now there is not enough “political capital” to achieve that goal.

“I would have liked to hear a little more force in the demands of the conservatives, but I understand that this is a strategy and we have no choice but to continue this struggle. December is the goal,” said Villafaña.

Democrats have threatened to block in the coming months any legislation Congress needs to keep the government going, such as the new federal budget for which Trump needs the support of Liberals if he wants to avoid a government shutdown.

Pelosi was optimistic Wednesday, going so far as to say she is “confident that President Trump will accept the negotiations and sign the law.”

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