By Sheri Williams
Members of the Labor community came together with immigration activists for a recent rally to defend the rights and status of “Dreamers,” young adults brought to the United States as children and who are now under the threat of deportation from the Trump Administration.
“These young people are Americans who need our support and our solidarity,” said Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Fabrizio Sasso, standing in front of Sacramento City Hall. “The president of the United States is targeting them for deportation, when in reality they are some of brightest, hardest-working, most promising young people in our communities today. It’s just wrong to threaten to remove them from the only country they have ever known as home. We need and value these Dreamers, and Organized Labor stands with them.”
Dean Murakami, Vice President of the SCLC, also spoke at the event, condemning the Trump administration not just for its policies on Dreamers, but for attacks on working families.
“Enough is enough. We’ve got to stop this,” said Murakami. “The country is going in the wrong direction. With this, the destruction of Obamacare, the destruction of unions across the county, we need to stop it.”
Murakami said the upcoming elections are a critical time for activism.
“We’ve got to take these people out of their offices. We’ve got to take them out in 2018,” he said.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed about 800,000 young adults brought to the country as children to legally work and attend school, has been effectively ended by the Trump administration, leaving the future of Dreamers in limbo.
After Trump announced the program would be phased out earlier this summer, Democrats Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer said they had reached a bi-partisan deal with Trump to allow Dreamers to stay in the United States with a pathway to citizenship.
However, the hope of that deal moving forward has evaporated in recent weeks as Republican immigration hardliners have said they oppose many aspects of it. Current negotiations on immigration at the federal level are chaotic.
Some hardliners insist they will not support any deal that includes an “amnesty” for Dreamers, and want them deported. Some moderate Republicans are sticking to a Trump idea that the president himself seems to have backed away from: tying any Dreamer deal to funding of a border wall.
Meanwhile, Democrats remain united in support of protecting Dreamers.
Congress must act by March, when DACA will officially end, to protect Dreamers.
Already, more than 150,000 Dreamers were given until early October to apply for renewal of their status if it expires in the next six months, a deadline that has caused panic and confusion for many. The end of the program and the quick deadline for renewals has left many Dreamers uncertain if they will be able to keep their jobs and school loans.