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Young Immigrants Rally At Border Wall For ‘Clean’ Dream Act

A group of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, DACA recipients and allie...

Photo by Jean Guerrero

Above: A group of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, DACA recipients and allies march through Border Field State Park, Feb. 7, 2018.

Nearly 50 immigrants and activists marched to the existing U.S.-Mexico border fencing between San Diego and Tijuana on Wednesday to urge Congress to protect the Dreamers, immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

"We want to make sure that we let people know that we're not willing to be used as bargaining chips," said Fernanda Madrigal, a 29-year-old immigrant who was brought to the U.S. illegally as a child. Madrigal is one of thousands of such immigrants who has DACA — a temporary protected status set to expire in March after the Trump administration decided to dismantle it.

Last month, President Trump said he would approve a path to citizenship for nearly two million Dreamers in exchange for border wall funding. But the protesters are demanding a "clean Dream act."

Madrigal said a bill to protect Dreamers that includes provisions for increased border security enforcement will only push young immigrants further "into the shadows."

Congress has been unable to reach an agreement to protect the Dreamers because of a tug of war between those who want border wall funding to be part of the bill, and those who don't.

The 3 p.m. rally began at Border Field State Park and ended near the International Friendship Park at the border fence. It came on the eve of a deadline for Congress to pass a spending bill for the country, with immigration issues a factor in the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats.

While the Senate approved a comprehensive spending bill on Wednesday, some Democrats in the House said they would not give the bill a green light unless Republicans promised to commit to begin talks to protect the Dreamers.

RELATED: One Year Into Trump’s Presidency, Border Wall Remains A Question

According to the Seed Project, a campaign of the pro-immigration group Movimiento Cosecha, the march toward the existing border barrier "is being used to highlight what is already in place that serves to separate undocumented communities."

"On the eve of this deadline, it is important to remind people that we are fighting for more than legislation, but for the recognition of our humanity," said Karla Estrada, founder of UndocuTravelers. "We are here to uplift the stories of our community and to face the wall that has caused pain to countless people. The wall that will determine the lives of immigrant youth and many immigrants to come."

RELATED: America's Wall: Decades-Long Struggle To Secure US-Mexico Border

During the march and rally, DACA recipients and other immigrants shared their stories and the stories of young immigrants who have already been deported. The stories highlighted what organizers called the "cruel and outdated immigration system" and the way "undocumented youth are being used as a tool in Congress to increase enforcement."

"Undocumented youth will continue, now more than ever, demanding that Democrats hold the line, grow courage and say #NoDreamNoDeal," said Madrigal, who's part of the Seed Project. "Undocumented youth are at risk of detention and deportation even despite having DACA."

Movimiento Cosecha, the group promoting the Seed Project campaign, advocates for the permanent protection of all immigrants living in the country illegally, not just those protected under DACA. It's a position that seems extreme in the current polarized immigration battle, but was welcomed even by conservative Republicans just a few decades ago.

"I will not be a bargaining chip and throw my community deeper into the shadows or for families to be separated — the time to act is now," said Barbara Hernandez, a DACA recipient from the Seed Project. "We need permanent protection, not only for the youth but for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country."

Dozens of immigrants and activists marched Wednesday near San Diego's border with Tijuana to urge Congress to protect immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation.

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