EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Ivonne Diaz knows that a college degree and a track record of service in the mental-health industry in Texas will not protect her from deportation should a future president try to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Donald Trump tried it in 2017 but was halted by a divided Supreme Court, which ruled the way he did it was unlawful, but not that he lacked the authority to try a different way.
“DACA has opened many doors for me. I have been able to travel and to work within the United States, but I still don’t have protection from deportation,” the University of Texas at El Paso psychology graduate said. “We want Congress to take action, to deliver for us. We need to know they are on our side.”
That’s why on the 10th anniversary of DACA, she and other “Dreamers” took to the streets of Downtown El Paso to demand Congress grant them permanent legal residence and a path to citizenship so they can vote. On Wednesday, they beat pans and shouted their demands as people drove by on their way to work.
“We are tired of promises, we are tired of attacks. It’s about time, we deserve it and that’s what we’re demanding today: a path to citizenship,” said Roberto Valadez, the organizer of Undocumented915 who was brought by his parents from Mexico to the U.S. when he was 18 months old.
DACA protects from deportation and grants work permits to those who were brought into the U.S. prior to 2007, before age 16. The program requires they have passed through the American education system, and many have made the most of those opportunities.
“We are workers, we are students, we are parents. We are a little bit of everything,” Valadez said.
Many are also politically engaged despite not being able to vote.
Diaz is a community organizer and many other Texas “Dreamers” are involved in get-out-the-vote campaigns every election.
National opinion polls consistently show a majority of Americans support a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” but the passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act remains in limbo since the early 2000s – even before Obama.
The “Dreamers” accuse Republicans in Congress of using them as a “bargaining chip” to demand tougher immigration laws. They also question some Democrats’ commitment to follow up verbal support with actual votes in Congress.
“A lot of us are exhausted, tired. We have been on this fight for way too long – 10 years – and we’re still fighting for permanent protection,” Diaz said as cars drove by and some motorists honked car horns in support.