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San Diego Immigration Advocates Vow To Continue To Fight For Dream Act

Students gather outside Hepner Hall at San Diego State University to rally in support of DACA, Sept. 7, 2017.
Elma Gonzalez Lima Brandao
Students gather outside Hepner Hall at San Diego State University to rally in support of DACA, Sept. 7, 2017.
San Diego Immigration Advocates Vow To Continue To Fight For Dream Act
San Diego Immigration Advocates Vow To Continue To Fight For Dream Act GUEST: Andrea Guerrero, executive director, Alliance San Diego

Our top story today, the dreamers, those protected from deportation by DACA had hoped that protection would be extended as part of the negotiations to avoid a government shutdown. But those negotiations are now done, and DACA is still in limbo. Our guest is Andre Guerrero, she is executive director of alliance in San Diego, a social justice organization which has been advocating for passage of the dream act. She is currently in Washington DC. Andrea, thank you so much for joining us.Thank you for having me.There is a whole group of dreamers from San Diego and yourself in Washington DC pushing for the dream act. I understand that you are actually detained. What actions were you taking, and what were you hoping to accomplish?Yes, there are over 1000 dreamers in Washington DC from all over the country. They include dreamers from the borderlands. And as part of the many actions that have occurred here, I did stand with dreamers and members of Congress in a civil disobedience action that resulted in our arrest. I was released later that day, paid a small fine. It was money well spent.What were you pushing for?We are here trying to raise the visibility and the urgency of questions. Congress, as you know, just decided to go home for the holidays without taking any action on a dreamers bill. That is extremely disappointing. It is disappointing for the dreamers, and for the country. They have kicked the can down the road, and it has real consequences. 122 dreamers lose their status every single day. That means that by the time they come back from the holidays, another 2000 people will have lost their status, and they will join the existing 13,000 dreamers who face the risk of deportation today.I want to go back quickly and ask you -- why exactly were you detained?We sat down on the Capitol steps, something that Capitol police do not allow. We do that in order to raise the visibility of the issue, because Congress is not taking any action. The civil disobedience that I participated in was part of a series of several actions, as well as legislative visits, media activity, all in an effort to call to question, because we know that the majority of Americans support a dream act. We know that a majority of Congress does as well. But Republican leadership has refused to bring it to the floor, and call it to question.You have any insights into what was happening behind the scenes that kept it from coming to the floor?It is not a question of policy, it is a question of politics. And that is a complicated question. All that I can say is that we are deeply, deeply disappointed that members of Congress have failed to take any action, they have endangered the lives of young people in this country, and that is simply unacceptable.Remind us, what does the dream act to do in terms of protecting immigrants in this country? And, what do you want to see in an extension?So, there are various forms of dream act that are currently circulating through Congress. But in short, a dreamer bill would create a pathway to citizenship, a pathway that is earned by the dreamers, who have come as children, who have enrolled and school and graduated from high school, who have participated in military service or work for a requisite number of years. They have demonstrated their commitment, and their contribution to this country. These are the people that we would create a pathway for. They would eventually become citizens of this country.There are an estimated 40,000 dreamers in a San Diego County. The Trump administration plans to end the program in March. Hundreds of DACA recipients have been losing their protective -- protected status.To the dreamers I say do not give up hope. There is a legion of people across the country who support you. We know that over 80% of Americans support dreamers getting permanent protection and a pathway to citizenship. Work with us, and we will come together to Washington DC in January. This was just a warm-up. We are coming back and we will get this done.So, how confident are you that a deal will come in January?I'm very optimistic. I'm very optimistic that we will see a deal in January, because of the negotiating power that we will have coming back. The government is facing another shutdown, and this one will be more dangerous than before for them, for the government. And the stakes will be higher. So, we will have more leverage coming back into January, and we hope to use that in order to compel them to act.You think that Democrats will face a backlash from Congress's failure to pass the dream act this year?The reason why they did not act was unclear to us. Except that it was about politics, it was not about policy, and it was about internal control and power. It is about who gets to claim victory in delivering dreamers the protections they have been asking for. At the end of the day, the solution has to be a bipartisan one. And you know, from our perspective, from the community's perspective, we don't care if it is the Republicans or the Democrats. In fact, we think -- we believe that it has to be both. We need to go back to actual dialogue, we have been talking about the dream act, or some version, for the last 20 years. It is well trodden territory. We know what the American public would accept. We know what the political parties will accept. It is simply a matter of calling it into question and bringing it to the floor.Andrea, Inc. you so much for joining us.Thank you.

San Diego immigration rights advocates vow to return to Washington in January to continue to fight for the passage of the Dream Act.

Hundreds rallied at the Capitol this week to urge Congress to approve the bi-partisan legislation before the end of the year as part of the spending bill negotiations. But members of Congress will leave for the holiday without a deal on immigration reform.

The Dream Act provides a path to citizenship for immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, also known as dreamers. It has become critical for the future of recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals program, which President Trump plans to end in March. Without any action from Congress, hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants could be at risk of deportation.


An estimated 40,000 dreamers live in San Diego County.

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance, San Diego discusses Friday on Midday Edition, what's next in the fight over immigration reform.