In September 2017, President Trump announced his intention to end DACA, the program which allows children who were brought into the country as minors to remain in their communities without fear of deportation. If DACA is eliminated, 800,000 young people, known as "Dreamers," could be deported as early as March 2018. To qualify for DACA, a young person must have a high school degree and either attend college or serve in the military. If you've been charged with any crimes, you do not qualify for the program.
Trump has now thrown the issue to Congress, which will have to decide whether or not to pass a "clean" Dream act. "Clean" refers to a bill that provides Dreamers a path to citizenship, but is also unblemished by counterproductive add-ons, like funding for a border wall or additional border agents.
via @unitedwedream:— MoveOn.org (@MoveOn) November 20, 2017
"What's the Clean Dream Act?
It's a bipartisan legislation that would protect two million immigrant youth by providing a pathway to legalization without putting their families or communities at risk" #DreamActNOWhttps://t.co/dLVWePi5Rp pic.twitter.com/cxSp2iTXX9
Gisele Mendez, a high school sophomore from Staten Island, has a sister who's protected by DACA. When her Congressman, Dan Donovan, held a town hall meeting, Mendez showed up with a box of signatures and a message for Donovan.
Do you, Dan Donovan, support the Clean Dream Act that would not put money on the wall or put more money on agents that will separate and terrorize families like mine? Will you vote yes and support us to get this dream act passed?
I support the President’s desire to secure our nation. About a month ago, about nine people died in the back of a van that was brought across our country because they weren’t given any water or air conditioning in that van. And my belief is that if that van had been stopped at the border maybe–I’m not sure when those poor people died–but maybe some of those people might be alive today. So I support DACA, but I also support protecting the border. And there’s not enough votes in Congress right now to get a clean DACA–Clean Dream Act–bill passed without attaching some moneys for some kind of border security.
Gisele Mendez: And if we do get enough voters, will you vote yes?
Donovan: I support the president in securing our borders.
Audience member: Ask him again.
Mendez: I’m sorry sir, but you need to be a little more specific.
Donovan: I’m in favor of fixing DACA, and I’m also in favor of securing our borders.
Mendez: So that’s a no.
Audience member: Do you support a Clean Dream Act?
Mendez: Like I said before, when we do get enough voters and supporters, you’re going to be one of those that say no.
Donovan: I’m going to be someone who supports DACA and border security.
It’s a yes or no question, sir.
While Mendez and several friends spoke to the Congressman at the town hall, others were holding a vigil outside. Earlier in the day, residents marched in the streets demanding a Clean Dream Act.
We may go through difficult times, but there may be a bright future ahead if young Americans remain this politically engaged.