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Minneapolis action demands ‘Clean Dream Act now!’

By staff |
January 16, 2018
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Minneapolis action demands a clean Dream Act. (FightBack!News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - On Sunday, Jan.14, immigrant rights activists, including students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, held a protest and community outreach action on the corner of Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue, a busy intersection in the heart of the Minneapolis Latino immigrant community. They demanded that Congress pass a clean Dream Act before the Jan. 19 congressional budget deadline.

A clean Dream Act means permanent protection for immigrant youth with DACA status who were brought here as children, without pairing that with repressive anti-immigrant measures like the border wall, ending family-based immigration and the diversity lottery or increased raids and deportations against other immigrants like President Trump is trying to do.

At the busy intersection, the protesters held signs and chanted demanding a clean Dream Act. Some signs also supported Salvadorans, Haitians and others for whom Trump has ended Temporary Protected Status (TPS), exposing hundreds of thousands of families to the threat of deportation. Some of the group’s signs also made pointed reference to Trump’s recent racist statement calling El Salvador, Haiti, and African countries “shithole countries.” Many passing cars honked and signaled their agreement with the anti-Trump and pro-immigrant message.

The action was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) and the Interracial Student Movement (ISM), as part of a series of efforts to pressure Congress to act now to pass a clean Dream Act.

After protesting outside in the bitter cold for a half hour, the group went inside a popular Latino immigrant marketplace. There, American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Clyde Bellecourt spoke to the group, expressing support for immigrant youth. Bellecourt put the struggle in the context of European colonization of the Americas and the struggle of the indigenous peoples of the Americas for unity and justice, and emphasizing the importance of young people in leading the struggle forward.

Then, in a visual and participatory action, the group shared balloons with messages supporting immigrant youth written on them with people in the marketplace. The organizers called on everybody to pop their balloons at the same time to symbolize that President Trump and Congress are trying to destroy young people’s dreams. Three organizers from the group spoke to the gathered crowd, sharing information with people about the struggle of DACA youth and the need for the community to get involved in the fight for a clean Dream Act.

In September 2017, President Trump abruptly announced the end of DACA. A federal court ruling has temporarily forced the administration to keep DACA alive while court cases about it are still being heard. But this is a temporary situation, not a real solution. The need for action for immigrant youth is as urgent as ever. As soon as the court cases end, every day around 122 more immigrant youth will lose their legal status and face the threat of being deported and uprooted from the only life they have ever known. Having put 800,000 immigrant youth in jeopardy of deportation by ending DACA, President Trump and anti-immigrant Republicans in Congress are now cynically using these young immigrants as bargaining chips for their anti-immigrant agenda.

Democrats in Congress have given lip service in support of immigrant youth, yet enough of them voted before the new year in support of the continuing resolution to fund the congressional budget for it to pass, temporarily keeping the government open until the fast-approaching Jan. 19 deadline. With that deadline upon us, another congressional vote on the budget is here, and the Republicans can’t pass it without some Democrats’ votes. So immigrant rights activists around the country are demanding that congressional Democrats turn their lip service into action and all vote no on passing any congressional budget unless a clean Dream Act is passed, even if that means a government shutdown. That is one of the strongest kinds of leverage they have to force a clean Dream Act through despite the opposition of anti-immigrant Republicans in Congress and the administration.

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