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UPDATE: Activists Rally In Houston Asking Congress To Pass A Clean Dream Act

They chose March 5 because it was the deadline set by President Trump for Congress to come up with a legislative solution for DACA, although the program is now in legal limbo

Chris Valdez, a Houston-based organizer with United We Dream, participated in a March 5 rally his organization led to ask Congress to pass legislation that will solve the uncertainty about the DACA program.
Chris Valdez, a Houston-based organizer with United We Dream, participated in a March 5 rally his organization led to ask Congress to pass legislation that will solve the uncertainty about the DACA program.

A group of about 50 to 100 people rallied Monday in Houston and asked the U.S. Congress to pass legislation that will provide DACA recipients a permanent legal status, but also legislation that will not toughen up immigration enforcement operations nor militarize the southern border, a concept activists call a clean Dream Act.

United We Dream (UWD) the largest organization of undocumented immigrant youth in the United States, organized and led the rally, which took place shortly after 12:00 p.m. at one of the entrances to NRG Stadium and also included a march around the popular sports venue.

UWD chose March 5 as the date to hold the rally because it was the theoretical deadline President Donald Trump gave Congress last September to present a legislative solution to ending the program.

However, DACA is now being debated in the courts and, therefore, is in a legal limbo that actually still allows recipients to submit applications for renewal of their DACA status and work permits.

Confusion about March 5

Immigration experts have noted the March 5 deadline has generated confusion. 

“Unfortunately I think… there’s a lot of confusion. And I think that what’s happened because of the complexity of the litigation that surrounded these issues. I think a lot of people in our community are just not advised about their rights, in terms of being able to apply,” said Professor Geoffrey Hoffman, director of the immigration clinic at the University of Houston’s Law Center.

During the rally, UWD members told some of their personal stories explaining how they arrived in the U.S. and said they are upset because they feel like “bargaining chips” in the political negotiations surrounding what will happen with hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients.

The program, whose popular acronym stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, was created in 2012 during the presidency of Barack Obama.

“We need the Dream Act now to protect immigrant youth who came in as children, so these are DACA beneficiaries and many youth who came here under the age of sixteen,” Carolina Ramírez, education equity manager for UWD, told Houston Public Media (HPM) in an interview before the rally.

Ramírez underlined that the importance of March 5 is that, according to a projection included in a fact sheet the Migration Policy Institute released in November 2017 –before the legal litigation about DACA was at its current stage—, a daily average of approximately 900 people would begin losing their DACA status beginning March 6.

Urgency

“We have an urgency for Congress to act and, also, we know that what Congress has been doing is attacking our families and, as immigrant youth we are saying: “Our families are not to be thrown under the bus and deported.” And, so, we are asking for a stop to deportations and separation of families,” added Ramírez.

Texas State Senator Sylvia García (Democrat-District 6), who is running in this Tuesday’s primary election to become the Democratic candidate in the race for Texas’ 29th Congressional District, attended the rally and told the crowd she is willing to advocate for a clean Dream Act if she wins the race in the mid-term election, which will take place in November.

“We can only win if we vote and the election is tomorrow. So, please, we are marching on the streets today but tomorrow we march to the polls and, with God’s blessing and your vote, I will go to Congress to continue this fight and I will not stop until we get it done,” García said at the rally.

HPM reached out to the Houston-based organization Texans for Immigration Reduction and Enforcement (TFIRE) for comment for this news report, but they declined to be interviewed and argued they are focused on Tuesday’s election.

The organization FIEL (Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle, by its acronym in Spanish), which is based in Houston as well, also planned to hold a DACA related event on Monday, specifically a town hall on protections for recipients of the program and other immigration topics, starting at 7:00 p.m.

Other rallies in Texas

UWD had also scheduled rallies and other actions in other Texas cities such as Austin, Dallas, El Paso and Laredo.

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Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

Alvaro ‘Al’ Ortiz

General Assignment Reporter

Alvaro 'Al' Ortiz is originally from Spain. He worked for several years in his home country and gained experience in all varieties of journalism, from wire services to print, as well as broadcast news and digital reporting. In 2001, Al came to the United States to pursue a Master's degree...

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