President Obama, Won’t You Stand Up For Dreamers?

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By Felicia Persaud

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 15, 2012: On the White House home page on Thursday, June 14th, a “Congress To Do List,” feature caught my eye. Quickly clicking on the link, I found myself extremely disappointed, as nowhere on this list was there a call for congress to act now for the tens of thousands of Dreamers before their summer recess!

The disappointment with the President and his administration on the issue of immigration reform, and especially the DREAM Act, continues. It is even more poignant at this time of year, when more and more smart young people are graduating from high schools and staring at a hopeless future.

Their crime – they entered the U.S. and have been living here for years without any legal right. There are even more young adults graduating from city and state colleges with degrees and looking at a future of joblessness and deportation simply because they have no social security numbers, no work permits and no green cards.

Among them are 24-year-old Veronica Gomez and 23-year-old Javier Hernandez, the two undocumented immigrant students who bravely stepped forward and took action this past week, occupying President Obama’s Denver campaign office and beginning a hunger strike that effectively closed the office to visitors and volunteers.
Both youth were born in Mexico, but have lived the vast majority of their lives in the United States. Hernandez’s family reportedly moved to California on a visa when he was four years old while Gomez’s family did the same just three days before she turned four.

“We’ve been ignored in this state but we will be heard across the country, along with many undocumented youth, we will demand an action!” said Gomez. “The immigrant community nationally needs to know that we have a voice in this country, that we are not criminals, and we deserve a pathway to legalization.”
The two, facing arrest and deportation, called off the sit-in on June 11th and finally stepped out of the office but their decision has triggered other youth to action.

The National Immigrant Youth Alliance has said now issued a call to its network to carry out acts of civil disobedience in Democratic campaign offices across the country from now until the November elections.

And they are absolutely right. Democrats and Obama are way too silent on the issue that is affecting the lives of almost 12 million. As usual, their game is to ignore the issue while blaming the Republicans.

But the immigrant voting bloc is watching. Last year alone, according to the Department of Homeland Security, 694,193 immigrants became naturalized U.S. citizens, giving them the right to vote.

As Rodrigo Hijonosa, a member of NIYA from New Mexico summed it up, “Obama has to prove that he’s different from Romney. He’s not as long as we’re getting deported. Undocumented youth are self-deporting and their families are getting torn apart by ICE. We need an executive order (on the Dream Act) now.”
The President has insisted all along that he supports the DREAM Act but that the only permanent solution is to have Congress pass it. In 2010, The DREAM Act passed the House, but failed in the Senate. If passed, the DREAM Act would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to enroll in college or the military and over time establish citizenship or permanent residency in the United States, if they desired to.

Many Latino and immigrant protestors say Obama should sign an executive order enacting the DREAM Act instead of passing the ball to congress and blaming Republicans.

“If they want the Latino vote in Colorado, they must show the community what they are doing for us. We are asking them to stop the deportation of all DREAM eligible youth!” added Hernandez on Monday, June 11th.

Hernandez is right Mr. President. The time to act is now if you really want to win in November. Otherwise, immigrant voters might as well stay home and let the chips fall where they may.

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.