Arkansas Coalition for DREAM welcomed the June 15th announcement by President Obama to grant temporary relief to DREAM Act beneficiaries as a momentous act of courage and a profoundly important step toward justice for immigrant youth. The announcement comes after two years of organizing and advocacy by DREAMers to ensure that their lives are not put on hold and that their families are not torn apart because of Congress’ failure to act.
In 2010, DREAMers began asking President Barack Obama to stop deporting immigrant youth and separating their families. Following the Congress’s failure to pass the DREAM Act, DREAMers regrouped and launched their “End Our Pain” campaign, successfully stopping over 30 deportations and winning review of 145 cases. This campaign included the October 12, 2011 sit-in by five DREAMers inside the Los Angeles office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to protest the continued deportation of immigrant youth.
Last month, the United We DREAM Network (UWD) launched the “Right to DREAM” campaign with coordinated rallies in Arkansas, with marches and protests around the country. Undocumented youth and community allies courageously called on President Obama to use his executive power to provide security of residence to DREAM Act-eligible youth and to stop the separation of immigrant families.
Today’s announcement answers the DREAMers’ call for immigrant justice and responds to the concerns of congressional and civic leaders across the political spectrum. Key Congressional members, from long-time champions like Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), to Republicans including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), as well as labor, education, and faith organizations have all joined UWD in calling for action on behalf of DREAMers.
“I am extreamly overwhelmed with joy,” said Rosa Velazquez, member of the UWD National Coordinating Committee and Executive Director of Arkansas Coalition for DREAM. “This historic announcement from President Obama is an inital step that will provide relief to many DREAMers. Finally, our teachers will teach, our nurses will heal and our soldiers will fight.” Velazquez said.
This announcement will change my life by providing my family and me with some much needed relief, a rightful start to contributing to this country, and with further motivation to keep fighting for an immigration reform that is so greatly needed,” said DREAMer Diana Tranbel.
While AC4D welcomes this temporary solution, it stresses that along-lasting solution is necessary and can only come through policy reform that provides a path to citizenship and allows undocumented youth to fully contribute to this nation. AC4D calls on Congress to follow the President’s lead by passing legislation ensuring that relief for DREAMers is made permanent.