OLYMPIA – Congress should protect “Dreamers” by freezing deportations and allowing them to build a future in the country where they grew up, a resolution in the Legislature says.
The joint memorial would offer the support of Washington legislators to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. It would ask Congress to clarify their citizenship status and allow recipients to stay in the country without fear of being deported or separated from their families.
Rep. Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, said that as a school counselor working with DACA students, she was touched by their stories and wants to make sure Dreamers can have hope for a future without fear of deportation.
“The only difference between me and them is that my parents were from a country that had legal citizenship” for immigrants to the United States, she said.
Leo Carmona, a DACA recipient who graduated from University of Washington and works as a legal advocate for a nonprofit, said the memorial is important because it represents hope for the future to Dreamers. Without DACA, Dreamers face losing their entire livelihood and community, he said
“My work permit expires in 2019, and I would no longer be eligible to work, nor would I be protected from deportation,” he said. “In 578 days, I become much more deportable.”
“It is not a pleasant feeling to know that your time in this country has a deadline, and that you can get deported any time and lose everything you have built in this country,” he said.
Another Dreamer, Salvador Salazar who studies at the University of Washington Bothell, said Dreamers need a permanent path to citizenship.
“I grew up in your communities, I graduated from high school here, I even registered for Selective Service,” he said. “I’d like to focus on getting my doctorate someday, but all of that is put off in advocating for my livelihood.”
Like many Dreamers, Salazar said, he fears deportation. He carries his DACA papers with him wherever he goes.
“The targeting of undocumented Americans is a policy derived from a repressive, 20th century regime,” he said.
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