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Hundreds march in St. Paul for clean Dream Act and legalization for all

By Akhi Menawat |
August 31, 2020
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Minnesota protest demands clean Dream Act and legalization for all.
Minnesota protest demands clean Dream Act and legalization for all. (Photo by Kim DeFranco)

Saint Paul, MN - Hundreds marched through the West Side of Saint Paul from Castillo Park to Senator Tina Smith’s office on August 29 demanding the Senate take immediate action towards legalization for all residents. The march was part of an ongoing campaign by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) demanding legalization for all immigrants eligible for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), TPS (Temporary Protective Status), and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) status.

The Dream and Promise Act, which would accomplish that goal, has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. For the bill to advance, the Senate also needs to pass it. Aside from legalization for those eligible for DACA, TPS and DED status, the protesters’ demands included the decriminalization of immigrants; immediate availability for all family reunification visas; immediate availability for all U Visas; elimination of the ‘10 Year Bar’ for departing U.S. and the ‘Permanent Bars’ for re-entry and for false claim to citizenship; elimination of all criminal charges for unauthorized entry; a complete end to the policy of ‘Prevention through Deterrence’; and defunding ICE.

The march was kicked off by speakers proclaiming the need for the law to catch up with our values that no human being is illegal, and that capitalism cannot both profit off our bodies while negating our existence. As the march moved through the long-standing Chicano and Latino neighborhood on the west side of Saint Paul, scores of community members and businesses showed their support. Upon reaching Senator Smith’s office, the group stopped to engage in a chalk art demonstration and to hear from some of the cosponsoring organizations as well as DACA, TPS, and DED recipients.

One DACA recipient spoke about the difficulty and cost of registering every year under new policies Trump imposed to try to make things as difficult as possible for DACA recipients, and how we need immediate legalization.

Another DACA recipient who recently won release from detention spoke of his harrowing experience being jailed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for a year. A speaker from the Council on American Islamic Relations reminded people that both Republicans and Democrats have failed immigrant and refugee communities, and that it’s people in the streets that have forced change regardless of which party holds power. As an example, he noted that it was actually a Republican who ensured the recent legislation that passed giving Liberians with DED status a path toward citizenship after Liberians in Minnesota and around the country organized and fought for legalization for 20 years.

A member of Los Brown Berets-Minnesota spoke about our need to maintain continuous pressure on our elected officials to continue the fight. The chalk art that was done on the ground outside the building housing Senator Smith’s office said “Legalization for all” in large letters.

Upon arriving back at the starting point of Castillo Park, the marchers gathered in a large circle to state the certainty of further actions pressuring Minnesota’s senators to take the lead in passing a clean Dream Act and meeting the community’s demands. The event closed with organizers stating we should expect to see further actions organized by MIRAC in the fight for legalization for all with DACA, TPS and DED status.

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