SACRAMENTO, CA – State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León joined Dreamers and leaders with the Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, Women’s, Jewish, LGBT, and Black caucuses to highlight the urgent need to pass a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers before January 19th. January is the last chance for Congress to take action before hundreds of thousands of Dreamers lose their ability to live, work, and contribute to the only country they know. In addition to the dire moral consequences of ripping apart hundreds of thousands of families, California could see a devastating annual GDP loss of $11.6 billion if Congress fails to permanently protect Dreamers.
“Dreamers are part of the fabric of California and tearing them away from their families and homes is callous,” said California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr in a statement. “It’s time for Congress to do its job.”
Also speaking at today’s press conference was Fatima Diaz, a 21-year-old student at Sacramento State University who came to the United States as an 11 month-old infant. For years, Diaz dreamt of becoming a pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps until a recruiter told her that she wasn’t eligible to enlist due to her undocumented status.
“For more than two decades, I have stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, volunteered to help better my community and studied hard with my classmates so I could pursue the American Dream. Not being able to join the United States Marine Corps was devastating, but DACA gave me the opportunity to further my goals and passions,” said Diaz. “Now, with DACA over, my life is is in limbo. There are 800,000 Dreamers like myself in this country who deserve the opportunity to pursue a future in the only country we’ve ever known as home without the fear of deportation.”
While lawmakers consider whether to pass permanent protections for these young people, leaders on both sides of the aisle must understand that it will take months for the Department of Homeland Security to set up and implement a system for Dreamers to apply, and to adjudicate those applications. Immigrant youth have shown incredible courage and love for their country each and every day, despite not knowing whether they’ll have permission to continue contributing in the near future. Congress must do right by them in January.
The press conference comes just one day after more than 115 top industry leaders from every sector of the economy, including the country’s largest employers, sent a joint letter to Congress, urging them to “act immediately and pass a permanent bipartisan legislative solution to enable Dreamers who are currently living, working and contributing to our communities to continue doing so.”
Quotes from State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and other participants in today’s press conference are below:
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León: “Congress needs to act now and secure the future for these Americans – Dreamers are Americans. I will be going to Washington DC next week to make sure they hear us in California and fight for the 200,000 Dreamers who live in our state. It’s time that we, the people of California, bring the agenda to Washington – not the other way around.”
Mark Ranneberger, Northern California Director at FWD.us: “California is home to more than 220,000 DACA recipients who contribute more than $11.6 billion to the state’s annual GDP. Passing permanent legislation to protect Dreamers is not only a fundamental question of American values, it is an economic imperative for California and this country. The overwhelming majority of Americans want Dreamers to stay, and any Member who claims to stand with Dreamers must act now and do right by them in January.”
Senator Ben Hueso, Latino Legislative Caucus Chair: “California¹s Latino Legislative Caucus will continue to stand with Dreamers. We will do everything in our power to ensure they are protected from the dishonorable, cowardly betrayal they have suffered at the hands of the Trump Administration. California¹s Dreamers have studied hard and done everything that was asked of them by our country and its leaders. They deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity.”
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Chair: “Terminating the DACA program was a heartless and reckless decision by the President. California is estimated to have more Asian and Pacific Islander Dreamers than any other state. This is not a red state versus blue state issue. It’s a human issue. It’s a practical and compassionate, human issue. I call on Congress to act now to protect all our Dreamers.”
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, Latino Legislative Caucus Vice Chair: “For the sake of basic human decency, Congress must take action now. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of young people who work hard, follow the rules and are striving for opportunity in the only country they’ve ever known. Subjecting all of them to deportation, and tearing apart families, is so horrifying it’s almost beyond comprehension.”
Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, Women’s Caucus: “We urge Congress to take the necessary steps to protect DACA students from the Trump administration. These Dreamers aren’t asking for handouts. They’re asking for the opportunity to continue the American Dream.”
Assemblymember Marc Levine, Jewish Caucus Chair: “President Trump’s attempt to use DACA recipients’ lives as leverage to further his immigration policy is unethical and unacceptable. Dreamers are students, teachers, entrepreneurs and valued members of our community. They should be treated with humanity and provided with a path to citizenship.”
Assemblymember Evan Low, LGBT Caucus Chair: “More than 75,000 LGBT Dreamers face risk and uncertainty while Congress and the Trump Administration play a game of political checkers. This uncertainty is especially dangerous for LGBT Dreamers who may face deportation to a country without the protections that help keep them safe. Congress should stop playing games and take action now on a permanent solution for our Dreamers.”
Assemblymember Mike Gipson, Black Caucus: “This brave group is ‘undocumented and unafraid’ of Trump’s scare tactics. Their bravery and love of this country is why I want to remind all the Dreamers out there that California stands with you, we will not be bullied, and we will continue to fight for you and your human right to live, work, and learn here in your home.”
Photos courtesy of Assembly Democratic Caucus: