For Dreamers, immigration reform is not a bargaining chip – it is a fundamental value of family togetherness. Each day that Congress fails to act, another hundred youth risk deportation. This means that some 1,600 young people in the U.S. could be torn apart from their families before federal funding runs out again on February 8. Young people like myself and my friend Karla Arana Garcia.
Karla and I are both dedicated to giving back to our community. Karla is a full time student aspiring to be a family therapist, and an active member of her church. Under DACA, I've been able to work as a community organizer, and had the opportunity to visit my family in Mexico after 20 years. My DACA status will expire in January of next year and the threat of deportation will become more of a reality unless our leaders step up.
As ICE is growing more aggressive in our communities, our representatives need to make bold and moral decisions to stop the separation of families. The Central Valley thrives on the backs of immigrants and our local representatives need to fully stand with all immigrant families. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has had his doors locked since 2013 and refuses to meet with constituents which only shows his failure to take any leadership to address the issue that deeply affects families in the area. One has to wonder, what is more important to him? Standing on the side of a racist administration or representing his constituents?
I thank Rep. Valadao for co-signing the Dream Act, but in this time of uncertainty, it is simply not enough. In a time where he could have taken moral leadership and voted against reopening the government, Rep. Valadao chose to stand with President Trump and put undocumented youth and our families at greater risk.
While Senators Feinstein and Harris have kept fighting for our communities, they need to ensure that we do not use criminalizing language to describe other member of our families. It’s time for Congress and our legislators to act. We can no longer wait on white supremacist negotiators from the White House.
Rep. Valadao, Majority Leader McCarthy and the rest of the California delegation must push for the immediate passage of a clean Dream Act to end the uncertainty and protect the Dreamers.
Lorena Lara of Stockton is a Dreamer and a community organizer with Faith in the Valley and PICO-California.