Washington, Jun 15 (EFE).- A group of so-called Dreamers demanded a path to citizenship during a protest outside the White House on Tuesday, the nine-year anniversary of then-President Barack Obama’s announcement of a policy that shields undocumented migrants from deportation.
A few dozen of the roughly 690,000 beneficiaries of Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program gathered on a hot day outside the presidential residence and chanted slogans such as “Sin papeles, sin miedo” (Without Papers, Without Fear), “Esta es nuestra casa” (This Is Our House) and “Biden escucha, esta es nuestra lucha” (Biden, Listen. This Is Our Struggle).
“It’s all well and good that the president, (Democrat) Joe Biden, mentions stories of DACA beneficiaries and meets with them. But it’s not enough,” Cristina Jimenez, director of the migrant advocacy group United We Dream, said.
Jimenez, an Ecuadorian-born migrant, said these stories have been used to score political points without fulfilling the promise of citizenship to Dreamers, so known because they are potential beneficiaries of a bill – the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act – that has been introduced to Congress in numerous versions over two decades in an effort to provide a path to citizenship for individuals brought to the US unlawfully before the age of 16.
Joining the activists at Tuesday’s demonstration was Democratic lower-house lawmaker Chuy Garcia, who said DACA must be the “beginning, not the end.”
He urged his colleagues on Capitol Hill to pass a bill this year that puts Dreamers on a path to citizenship.
Besides shielding hundreds of thousands of Dreamers from deportation, Obama’s DACA executive memorandum allowed those undocumented migrants to obtain a driver’s license, a social security number and a work permit.
But it does not offer them a path to permanent residency or citizenship.
Obama’s successor, Republican Donald Trump, sought to rescind DACA, but the Supreme Court last year shot down that attempt, saying his administration had not provided a “reasoned explanation for its action.”
Tuesday’s demonstration outside the White House and later the US Congress coincides with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to analyze the proposed American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R.6), which would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented migrants, including the Dreamers.
That committee is chaired by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who has unsuccessfully sponsored similar bills over the past 20 years.
The 100-seat US Senate is currently equally divided between Republicans and Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats), with Vice President Kamala Harris representing the tie-breaking vote.
But passage of H.R.6 would require the support of at least 10 GOP senators, a high barrier even though polls show majority public support for providing Dreamers a path to citizenship.
Republicans expressed their staunch opposition to the bill during Tuesday’s hearing, saying it contains no provision to bolster border security. EFE