Dreamers threatened by political antics

Dreamers amenazados por las payasadas políticas

I had just left a celebration for Martin Luther King at MSU Denver where Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston, the keynote speaker, implied that celebrating MLK was not enough, challenging audience members to take action in the way King had demonstrated, to act upon injustice. What better way to do this than to attend a press conference regarding the irresponsible action taken by the GOP against President Obama’s signing of DACA?

Recollect that Colorado’s Asset Bill set the stage for in-state-tuition for the many Dreamers who sat in an abyss of darkness as their educational dreams dwindled, with no hope for the future. Under DACA, children who have been socialized in América, attended schools and for all practical purposes are Americans, were permitted to work legally in this country. DACA is on the chopping block by rightwing forces in the federal legislature, whose agenda is twofold, leave Obama with a tainted legacy and use immigrants as scapegoats for the economic and social ills plaguing our society.

More specifically, Marsha Blackburn’s (R-Tennessee) DACA bill, H.R. 5272 “prohibits the federal government from making modifications to Obama’s executive order that would expand the number of illegal immigrants eligible for it. It would also stop any authorization of any new deferred deportations, and would prohibit those illegal aliens from being able to work within the US.” The scuttlebutt is that young people that have benefited from DACA may be deported.

Imelda Cuevas, someone whose family has suffered the indignities of imigraphobia in Colorado shared her story during the press conference. She is a past beneficiary of DACA and called América her country. She told supporters that she had not asked help from anyone, worked and paid taxes to the government. Tormented by fear and desperation, she wants to come out of the shadows of obscurity and begin to live a full life. As she stated, “we are not criminals.”

I spoke with David Rodríguez, whose story begins in Los Angeles and who spends his spare time struggling for the cause. He shared his dissatisfaction with the lack of comprehensive immigration policy, which has immigrants feeling insecure. As he shared, “We don’t need something temporary, we need something permanent, a path to legalization.”

Coincidentally, I ran into a former student of mine Diana Villareal, who now works for Rights for All People (RAP). She is an organizer and graduate of MSU Denver who incidentally paid out-of-state tuition to get her education. She advised readers to not believe everything they hear and to “talk to someone who has been affected by this before passing judgment.”

Congresswoman Diane DeGette pleaded to the immigrant community and its supporters to continue their struggle for long term comprehensive immigration reform. As she stated, “Dreamers are being threatened by the new leadership in the federal government. Although many are attending and have graduated from colleges and universities,” their dreams may be melted down as congress backslides.

Community leaders from Mi Familia Vota characterized the federal government’s current actions as “an assault on immigrants and a waste of taxpayer’s dollars.” In other media outlets, advocate, spokesperson and longtime activist, and board member of the Colorado Latino Form Julie Gonzales stated, “Over twelve thousand Colorado DREAMers have now received deferred action, and it’s time that Reps. Gardner and Coffman stop thinking they can play shell games — maybe we’ll deport you, maybe we won’t — with their lives. Latino voters represent the electoral margin of victory in Colorado, and we are sick and tired of symbolic votes that make good summer recess talking points but make no difference in the long run. Come November, our community will remember that Reps. Gardner and Coffman chose to play politics with young people’s lives instead of pushing for meaningful comprehensive immigration reform.”

With reference to Representative Mike Coffman, whose crocodile tears and pleas in Spanish for Latino votes during the campaign, seems to be speaking with a forked tongue. His broken promises are well documented. His vengeance is aimed at President Obama for passage of DACA. He has stated, “The President’s executive actions are clearly unconstitutional and I strongly oppose his unilateral decisions on immigration but my party needs to stop just saying what we are against and start saying what we are for when it comes to fixing our broken immigration system.”

What supporters expected from Coffman was for him to keep the promises he made during the campaign. He has teamed up with Cory Gardner from Yuma. What was promised and what has transpired are contradictory. Records show that both legislators voted no fewer than four times to end DACA in the last year, with the latest vote being only three months ago. And although, they both voted “yes” on a rule that allowed the anti-DACA vote to come to the floor for debate, they voted “no” to its passage. While sparing DACA, the duo voted down attempts by Colorado Representative Jared Polis and Democrats to advance HR 15, which was considered to be an attempt on comprehensive immigration that would assist millions of families to come out of the shadows. Coffman has used his voting privilege to detain refugee children in countries where they are attempting to escape violence.

It is one thing to engage in political warfare with another party; but something incomprehensible to punish innocent children and families. The many dreamers whose visions seemed possible are now being threatened by the political antics of a dysfunctional federal congress and whose actions will bury DACA.

Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an independent journalist.© 1-15-2015 Ramón Del Castillo.

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