DREAMers, their families & educators press House to follow Senate lead

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by Félix Pérez/images and sliderocket presentation by Colleen Flaherty

More than 1,000 DREAMers, their parents and allies participated in three days of action at the nation’s Capitol that culminated yesterday in a mock citizenship ceremony. The students and other advocates pressed members of the House of Representatives to follow the lead of the Senate and pass a bill that fixes the nation’s broken immigration system and provides a fair path to citizenship for millions of aspiring Americans.

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Adriana Ortiz, from New Mexico, grew “emotional” at the unity and patriotism displayed by the flag-carrying students and their parents. “I am a DREAMer. I feel like I’m an American because this is my home. I have been here since I was 2 months old. I don’t know any other place than this.”

Ortiz added, “We are fighting for our dreams every day, whether it’s in the shadows or out in the streets. . . We just want to continue educating ourselves and living amongst the people we call our friends, the people we call our family and just be able to live amongst everyone as a normal American because that’s what we consider ourselves, Americans.”

A Gallup poll released today — consistent with other polls — reveals that most Americans feel positively about immigration. More than 7 of every 10 people agree that “immigration is a good thing” for the country. The finding is the highest level since the annual survey was first conducted in 2001.

new report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows that state and local budgets would receive $2 billion in new tax revenues as a result of immigration reform. The report estimates that these families currently pay $10.6 billion a year in state and local sales, excise, income and property taxes.

 

DREAMers engaged in a flurry of activities yesterday as House Republicans, who control the chamber, held a closed-door meeting to discuss how they will proceed with immigration reform. Pressure to pass legislation has shifted to the House since the Senate passed a sweeping bill this month along overwhelmingly bipartisan lines.

San Diego elementary school teacher Reagan Duncan is one of tens of thousands of educators who say the time is now for immigration reform. “There have been weeks where we have had 5-7 families deported. Sometimes the children are allowed to stay if there is a friend or other family member they can stay with, but not always. Then these children come in and take their seat in my room. They are expected to keep up, to continue their learning, and to perform at proficient levels.”

Duncan added:

These are the students who amaze me. They carry the weight of their parents’ expectations on their shoulders. The hopes and dreams for a brighter future shine in their eyes, and it is my job, no, my privilege to give them a chance to get there. They can’t stand up and fight for immigration reform, but I can and I do.

Representative Luis Gutiérrez, D-Ill., a longtime advocate for immigration reform, encouraged the DREAMers to persist in their quest. “We cannot allow a victory in the Senate to be denied in the House of Representatives. . . There will be no stopping us because there will be no stopping you! And today the youth of America is not only here, but so are your moms and your dads.

“There is urgency to the moment and urgency to action. And we say to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, ‘Let the people’s will be heard!’ “

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