WASHINGTON – DREAM Act supporters gathered outside the White House last week to demand that President Barack Obama follow through on his campaign promise of comprehensive immigration reform.
Protesters came from across the country for the July 26 rally,asking the president to stop the deportation of DREAM Act-eligible immigrants,their families and the immigrant parents of U.S. citizen children. The demonstration coincided with the National Council of La Raza’s annual conference.
“Today is a really sad because we’re marking one million folks deported under President Obama’s administration,” Gustavo Andrede,an organizer with CASA de Maryland,said. “We think that number is shameful,and we’re calling on the president to reverse the policies that are causing so much pain for Latino and immigrant families.”
CASA de Maryland partnered with Familia Latina Unida,a Chicago-based immigrant rights group,and local organizations to hold the rally. Protesters said Obama risks losing their votes next year if he doesn’t make progress on the issue.
“We will hold our vote from him until he fulfills his promises that he’s committed to us,” said Emma Lozano,executive director of Familia Latina Unida and pastor of Lincoln United Methodist Church in Chicago. “We would like a moratorium to stop the deportations and separation of families.”
The DREAM Act would provide conditional residency to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States before they were 16. They could gain permanent residence after completing two years of college or military service,displaying good moral character and meeting other requirements.
Demonstrators also called for the suspension of the E-Verify program,which allows employers to ascertain the employees’ legal status,and the Secure Communities program,which allows authorities to use fingerprints to identify deportable immigrants arrested for other charges.
Rep. Luis Guitierrez,D-Ill.,and 10 community organizers and religious leaders were arrested when they sat on the sidewalk outside the White House and refused to move. They paid fines and were released.
“Hoy con ustedes,tomaramos estas acciones para denunciar la immoralidad de las deportacions,” Gutierrez said. “Today with you,we take these actions to denounce the immorality of deportations.”
Reach reporter Nadia Tamez-Robledo at [email protected] or 202-326-9865
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