Hours after the Trump Administration announced its decision to end DACA, Nevada immigrants and allies gathered at the East Las Vegas Community Center to express their outrage and ask the tough questions on how immigrants can stay safe in the current legal environment. They then discussed what the end of DACA means going forward, and how immigrant communities can fight back.
“DACA kids are human beings. Make sure people know that DACA is us.”
– Assembly Member Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas)
Though there were a few tears shed last night, there was also plenty of resolve to take on whatever the Trump Administration throws at immigrant communities next. The Asian Community Development Council’s Karl Catarata urged solidarity in fighting for equality together when he exclaimed, “This is a people of color issue! People are not illegal!”
Assembly Member Edgar Flores urged people to see DACA recipients not as mere numbers, but as fellow human beings who contribute to our society. “DACA kids are human beings. Make sure people know that DACA is us. There’s no difference between U.S. citizens and DACA [recipients].”
“As a law professor, this is not a good day.”
– Professor Michael Kagan, UNLV Immigration Law Clinic
Professor Michael Kagan, Amy Rose from ACLU of Nevada, and other lawyers were on hand last night to explain what Trump’s decision to end DACA means. Kagan and Rose urged immigrants to stay safe, and to remember their constitutional rights. As long as DACA recipients have current work permits, their employers can not fire them due to their status. Regardless of immigration status, ICE agents cannot enter into someone’s home or arrest anyone without a judicial warrant.
After the program, we spoke with ACLU of Nevada’s Amy Rose on DACA. She summarized Trump’s DACA decision this way: “Instead of protecting DREAMers, instead of protecting the most vulnerable in our community, Trump pulled this protection from right under them and told Congress they need to act.”
“I feel resolved to move forward. I’m inspired by what DREAMers have done to move forward.”
– State Senator Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas)
We also spoke with State Senator Yvanna Cancela (D-Las Vegas) after the program. She caused quite the commotion when she introduced legislation to dissuade local law enforcement from participating in federal deportation raids this past legislative session. Though that bill did not make it, the Nevada Legislature ultimately passed other bills to protect immigrant communities.
Cancela expressed her frustration over Trump’s decision, but she also voiced hope for the future. “We’re finally at a moment when there’s full consensus across the board that the DREAM Act is a good idea. That should be a clean, stand-alone bill that Congress gets done right away.”
Where’s the DREAM Act now?
In 2010 the DREAM Act passed the U.S. House, only to get filibustered in the Senate despite a heavy lift from then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). In 2012, then President Barack Obama announced DACA as the result of Congress’ failure to pass the DREAM Act or larger comprehensive immigration reform. Yesterday, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D) urged her colleagues to pass the new DREAM Act to provide DREAMers with permanent protection and a path to citizenship.
In contrast, U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R) has made no official statement on DACA since Trump’s decision was announced. Though Heller sent two staff members to the community forum, they refused to comment when asked about Heller’s position on the new DREAM Act.
The DREAM Act already has bipartisan support in Congress and among voters, but the challenge lies in actually getting it to the floor in both houses of Congress. DREAMers and allied activists have six months to make this happen. DREAMer and activist Astrid Silva hinted at this Tuesday night when she stated, “Everyone in this room is going to keep fighting.” Indeed, the fight continues.