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Wenatchee rally calls for Democrats to pass immigration reform

UPDATED: Wed., Oct. 13, 2021

By Pete O’Cain Wenatchee World

WENATCHEE – With language in a U.S. Senate bill that would provide permanent residency for undocumented immigrants in danger of being erased from the final draft, a group of community members marched Tuesday to urge Democrats to follow through with campaign promises.

About 60 attended the rally, many of whom carried signs with messages like “Here to stay” or “Protect DACA students.” DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy that allows some people brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the country.

“This march has purpose,” said Jorge Chacón, co-founder of civic engagement group CAFÉ, addressing the crowd in English and Spanish. “The purpose of this march is to let our state representatives, wherever they are throughout the United States of America, that it is time – it’s time, it’s time, it’s time, it’s time – for there to be a comprehensive immigration reform. It’s time for that to happen. We cannot wait any more.”

The rally was one of many held across the country as part of a statewide day of action organized by OneAmerica, an immigrant and refugee advocacy organization. Many of the rallies took place Monday.

Senate Democrats are working on a $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Plan that invests in family services, health and environment programs.

Within the bill is language that would offer legal permanent residency to about 8 million undocumented immigrants. However, the move would require substantial policy change and falls outside the limitations of what’s allowed in the bill, the Hill reported last week.

Democrats are attempting to bypass Republicans, who oppose the bill, through a process called reconciliation, according to CBS News. This would require a “yes” vote from every Senate Democrat.

Karina Villa-Vega, a member of the local Immigrant and Latinx Solidarity Group, said she’s frustrated with Democrats and wants them held accountable.

“We have heard from Democrats in the past that they will support our immigrants or working families and we keep seeing them dropping the ball,” Villa-Vega said.

Villa-Vega works at Wenatchee Valley College as the director of the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement Program and helped organize the rally. She sees the effects of uncertain immigration statuses in her students.

“I have DACA students who live in constant fear,” Villa-Vega said, adding, “For me, one way to better your life is through education and it’s really hard when you have to think about whether or not you’ll be able to stay or your family will be separated, and you still have to do well in your calculus class.”

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