Protesters led a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol Friday afternoon demanding lawmakers to vote against any budget that does not include the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.
More than 80 people filled the rotunda of the capital and showed their support for Wisconsin’s immigrant population. Teachers, pastors, lawyers, students, researchers and parents — many undocumented at one point and some still without citizenship — shared their stories and emphasized the urgency of protecting undocumented populations from deportation.
The DREAM act, which would grant current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival recipients permanent legal residence and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, was introduced July 20, 2017 by Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, Dick Durbin D-Illinois, Jeff Flake R-Arizona and Chuck Schumer D-New York after President Donald Trump’s administration said it would end DACA in September 2017.
Nearly 800,000 immigrant youth currently protected under DACA cannot wait until the program’s deadline of March 5 to be “included in legislation,” University of Wisconsin Ph.D. student in counseling psychology and one of the organizers of the protest, Laura Minero, said. Minero is also an undocumented immigrant.
Minero and other organizers want the DREAM Act passed today, and if it isn’t included in a budget resolution, they want lawmakers to vote against it, forcing a government shutdown.
“One hundred and twenty-two DACA individuals lose their status every single day,” Minero said. “We have people that have to drop out of their jobs, people that aren’t able to feed their families, people who live in fear trying to take their kids to school.”
The DREAM Act continues to receive bipartisan support from lawmakers and Americans. Seventy-eight percent of registered voters agree that Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the U.S. and 56 percent supported eventual citizenship for them, according to a study conducted in April by Morning Consult, an online survey and market research company.
Even Trump, who has been consistently hostile to immigrants, vowed to “work something out” for Dreamers, according to reporting from The Hill.
“Paul Ryan has the ability to bring this to the floor as Speaker of the House. He holds a lot of power,” Minero said. “If he were to bring it up to vote, we’re confident that the clean DREAM Act would receive support.”
Madison community rallies in support of DACA recipientsIn response to the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, University of Wisconsin students and community Read…
Equal Opportunities Commissioner for Madison and an organizer for the event, Jose Rea, said the Democrats and Republicans who continue to delay a vote on the future of DACA and the DREAM Act and are leaving 800,000 Americans “in the dust and without legal protections” is the “biggest disrespect they can do to our fellow brothers and sisters.”
Toward the end of the rally, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin spoke about his grandmother, and her experience as an undocumented immigrant in the United States. She was “thankfully” able to attain citizenship later, he added.
Soglin expressed his frustration with the lack of urgency in Congress over the DREAM Act when many families exist in a state of anxiety without its protections.
“We get up in the morning, and we kiss our loved ones goodbye as we go off to work or we go off to school with no guarantee whether the whole family will be together in the evening,” Soglin said. “There is just no excuse that in this country, anyone, any family, should have to go through that one day, let alone day after day after day after day.”