Colorado DREAMERs hope for Christmas miracle
Author: Marianne Goodland - December 17, 2017 - Updated: December 17, 2017
On a cold morning this week, about four dozen mostly-young people gathered on the Auraria campus to chant and plead with Colorado’s congressional delegation to save DACA.
They gathered around a poker table, signifying that Congress and President Donald Trump are gambling with their lives and their futures. At the table: two men wearing masks depicting Democrats U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Denver and U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada. The two masked men played a couple of hands with cards that carried messages instead of pictures of kings, queens, and aces.
DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is scheduled to sunset on March 5 unless Congress takes action to officially sanction the program. DACA was originally authorized by an executive order in 2012 from President Barack Obama. Trump ordered the program suspended last September, but gave Congress six months to put it into legislation.
One hope that DREAM-ers — what DACA recipients are often called — have is that Congress will put the program into a federal spending bill that is due to be voted on by Dec. 22. Without that spending bill, the federal government would run out of money and shut down. Congress could keep the government open with a continuing resolution that would push the spending issue into 2018. But those at Thursday’s rally hope Congress will give them a happy holiday and pass a “clean” DREAM Act.
Among those who spoke at the Auraria rally: Montserrat, a 17-year old senior at a local high school who is not being identified because her DACA application has been rejected and she is at risk for deportation. She told Colorado Politics her application had been rejected because she has been unable to prove how long she has been in the United States. As an undocumented immigrant, she said she daily wakes up with the fear of being deported.
“We are traumatized every time we see a cop,” she said. “We imagine the worst,” that her parents will be deported and leave her little brothers, who were born in the United States, behind.
As someone who isn’t able to obtain DACA status, she isn’t able to pursue her dream of becoming a pediatrician and isn’t able to receive the scholarships she’s been offered. But “I refuse to see my dreams crushed,” she said, asking that Bennet and Perlmutter to keep fighting for a “clean” DREAM Act.
Ana Rodriguez is a community organizer. She, too, knows the fear; she’s been in the United States since she was 4, now more than 20 years. Rodriguez has a master’s degree in social work but lost her right to work for five months when her DACA application got lost in the mail. Once the application was accepted, she was able to go back to work but told Colorado Politics if DACA is not renewed, she will either be deported or have to go back to cleaning houses, which is what she did for those five months.
“All of the sacrifices my parents made” to make her education possible would be for naught, she said.
“I have a bachelor’s degree. I have a master’s degree,” she said. “I’m educated and able to work in the community, but I can’t do that without a work permit. In the worst case scenario, I face deportation. That’s doesn’t make any sense to me.”
According to Corrine Fowler of Padres y Jovenos Unidos, a clean DREAM act would mean legislation without additional funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and no compromises on border control.
Fowler said Bennet and Perlmutter were being targeted because they are both in safe seats and “should take a stronger position” on persuading their colleagues to pass the DREAM Act done before the end of the year.
The rally was sponsored by the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Colorado People’s Alliance, Mi Familia Vota, Organizing For Action, Padres y Jovenes Unidos, SEIU Local 105, United For A New Economy, United Leaders For Higher Education and Indivisible Colorado District 6.