Nov. 9 officially marks two months since President Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and with the country’s attention elsewhere, immigrant advocates are pressing Congress not to forget about the undocumented youth affected by the decision.
Hundreds of students across the DMV were to lead walkouts and rallies Thursday morning, calling for Congress to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, without any amendments for increased enforcement against Dreamers, or immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as youths by their parents.
The walkouts were to begin about 9 a.m., with many students in the D.C. region planning to mobilize at Columbus Circle and hit Capitol Hill.
“The biggest misconception about DACA and the ‘Dreamers’ is that we still have time,” said Bruna B. Bouhid, national communications manager for United We Dream, an immigrant advocacy organization. “Even though the end DACA has already been secured, Trump has still placed a mark of March 5, as the very last closeout day, so many residents think that the Dreamers still have more time. However, people have already started losing their citizenship status and more will continue to follow unless we get this DREAM Act passed which we are hoping to accomplish by the end of December.
“We know the truth,” Bouhid said. “With DACA, almost a million young people of color were finally getting ahead. Trump killed DACA to set them back, criminalize them, deport them. We need Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act to restore dignity and justice.”
Participating students came from schools including Trinity University, Woodrow Wilson High School, University of the District of Columbia, American University, School Without Walls of Washington DC, George Washington University, Georgetown University and Montgomery College’s Rockville and Takoma Park campuses.
The walkouts were the latest in a string of protests related to Trump’s decision and came on the heels of nearly 150 Dreamers nationwide converging on D.C. last month to implore Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
“While in D.C., I was able to share my story with Congressman [Daniel] Webster’s office, and it was so empowering to be sharing something that I never talked about for 16 years,” said one of the Dreamers, Maria Rodriguez, in an op-ed published by USA Today. “I had always feared government officials knowing these facts about my life, yet there I was standing tall and owning the difficulties a broken immigration system had brought into my life.
“I was nervous and my voice was trembling, but this was my time to be heard,” Rodriguez said. “I finally had the chance to stand up for people who wanted nothing other than a fair shot at a future in the country they have lived in and contributed to for years. … [And] I will continue to fight, alongside the inspiring individuals I met last week, for immigration reform that recognizes our humanity and creates a fair shot at something we have worked so hard for — citizenship.”