WASHINGTON – Thousands of people turned out on Wednesday at the US Capitol – many of them traveling from other states – to demand an immediate solution to the immigration situation of the young undocumented foreigners known as Dreamers and for immigrants allowed to remain in the US under Temporary Protected Status but are now in danger of losing that benefit.
With slogans such as “Clean up the Dream Act” and “Save TPS,” thousands of people joined a protest near the steps of Congress to urge legislators to approve a law helping immigrants who have made the US their home to regularize their status and eliminate their uncertainty regarding their futures in the US.
Fatima Coreas, a Dreamer and member of the pro-immigrant rights organization Casa Maryland, said in an interview with EFE that lawmakers need to approve a solution before the year ends so that young people like her can live without anxiety and get on with their lives.
“We don’t want more money for detention centers, more immigration agents in our communities terrorizing our families. So, we’re demanding that Congress act now, since we know that next year many of them are running for re-election and they’re going to focus on their campaigns,” she said.
“The message I want the American community to know is that we’re human beings, we have feelings. We’ve contributed to this economy since we arrived ... Many of us have our own homes, we have our own vehicles, we pay taxes ... I want you to know that we are part of you,” she added.
The fear among these young people increased markedly in September when President Donald Trump cancelled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program implemented by executive order by his predecessor, Barack Obama, to prevent the Dreamers’ deportation. Trump made the move given that Congress had not passed a comprehensive immigration bill, although he gave lawmakers until March 2018 to craft a replacement for DACA.
More than 900,000 young immigrants who came to the US as children have benefited from DACA over the last five years, receiving a stay on deportation proceedings, work permits and driver’s licenses.
However, Trump has now cut them adrift and many fear that lawmakers will not agree to a bill that will allow them to breathe easy.
TPS beneficiaries find themselves in a similar position, with Trump imposing deadlines in 2019 whereby citizens of Haiti and Nicaragua will have to leave this country if another legal solution is not found, while the thousands of Salvadorans and Hondurans who have been here for years under the program fear that he will end TPS protection for them, too.
“We’ve done things right for almost 20 years, we’re TPS and we demand permanent residence,” said Honduran Jessika Giron, who came here in the late 1990s under TPS when her homeland was devastated by Hurricane Mitch. “We haven’t done anything wrong.”