With no permanent fix by DACA deadline, Dreamers amp political mobilization


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 With no permanent fix by DACA deadline, Dreamers amp political mobilization

Diana, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipient wipes away a tear listening to the parent of a DACA recipient speak during a rally outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, California, U.S., September 1, 2017.Disappointed over the lack of action by the White House and Congress over the long-term fate of DACA and immigration reform, Dreamers are focusing their energies on this year's elections and mobilizing through political action.

Back in September, President Donald Trump had marked March 5th as the the last day of DACA program. The Obama-era executive order allowed young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as young children who applied and qualified to work and study in the country without fear of deportation.

But two federal judges blocked the Trump administration from rescinding the program and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the government's appeal, which expanded Dreamers' time frame to garner congressional support for a permanent solution.

"They kind of gave people a relief," said Astrid Silva, a DACA beneficiary and co-founder of Dream Big Vegas in Nevada, who has been involved in immigrant and political activism for nearly ten years. She worked with former Senate Leader Harry Reid and put pressure on the Obama administration before the former president announced the DACA program.

Dozens of demonstrations nationwide have been taking place leading up to March 5th's big rally in Washington D.C. as well as other rallies across the country.

Nonetheless, the fate of Dreamers remains uncertain until Congress or the White House provide legal, permanent alternatives. Young immigrants are focusing on the elections, working to mobilize voters and push legislators.

"As a person that has come out [as a DACA recipient], there's no retracting," said Silva. "That's why so many of us have wanted to have seats at the table."

Silva thinks the court's action has prompted bigger Dreamer rallies and more organized political mobilization in this election year because "people think it's a solution and we have to explain to people that this is temporary."

Dreamers could start losing their status this week as a result of backlogs in processing DACA renewals and applications.

Monica Sibri, founder of CUNY Dreamers, has been an immigration advocate for over five years in New York City. She said the Dreamer movement is at its most organized, going beyond 'hitting the streets' and marches to more meetings with elected officials.

Sibri has found a way to use "the national picture of what it is to be an immigrant in America" as an opportunity to hold state senators and governors accountable for their promise to protect immigrants, including Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and others.

Image: Protesters hold up signs supporting DACAProtesters hold up signs during a rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals near the Trump Tower in New York on Oct. 5, 2017.Sibri told NBC News she has seen a response among local elected officials as young immigrants like her aim to harness the opposition to Trump's policies to their advantage.

"Anybody that opposes a piece of the Dream Act or any piece of immigrant legislation at the state level is now being labeled as a 'Trumper,'" said Sibri. "And they're afraid to be compared to Trump...Even the responses we've received from their offices are way higher than before."

Across the country, other young immigrant activists are lobbying local and state officials.

"I now actually know what's like to talk to these people [government leaders], how to speak with their staff," said DACA recipient and community leader Benito Costilla, who is from Temple, Texas. "When you talk to these people you need to keep your head straight and stay concentrated. You can't get too emotional."

DACA recipient Javier Gamboa sees this year's midterm elections as crucial to electing officials as a willing to find a solution for Dreamers and immigrants with no legal status.

As the director of Hispanic media for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, his job is to get Democrats elected to the House. Although the focus of the party he's working for is centered on becoming the majority, the ambition also is personal.

"We are going to hit the deadline and nothing has been done and nothing has been passed to provide a solution for DACA," Gamboa said. "We belong in this country and it is a fight to remain in this country. It is a fight for my future."

Activists like Nevada's Astrid Silva remain confident and hopeful that comprehensive immigration reform that protects Dreamers and their families will ultimately come, sooner rather than later.

"To the opponents of the Dream Act," said Silva, "those who were able to adjust their status, they're going to be running for office — people who understand what's like to be afraid of La Migra."

Suzanne Gamboa, senior writer at NBC News Latino, contributed to this report.


By: NBC News

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