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As you know, we’ve been publishing a series of posts from the DREAMers of the Campaign for an American DREAM. In March, they set off from San Francisco to begin a 3,000-mile, 8-month+ walk to Washington, DC to call attention to the DREAM Act and the need for immigration reform.
This week, the DREAMers arrived in Denver to make an impact on that city and national politics. On Tuesday, the Campaign for an American DREAM (CAD) Walkers and local activists held a protest in front of the local Obama campaign headquarters to ask for an executive order to end deportations of DREAMers. Two of the walkers, Javier Hernandez and Veronica Gomez, went inside the building and began a sit-in that has since turned into a hunger strike.
You can follow the up-to-the minute news from the protest at the CAD Walk’s twitter feed: @CADWalk2012. They’ve been providing live streams from Denver.
Here’s our dispatch from Javier Hernandez:
Veronica and I have been in the Obama for America, Colorado office since Tuesday afternoon and have been on a hunger strike since 11 p.m. that night. Our message is simple: “President Obama, sign an executive order to immediately stop the deportation of all DREAM-eligible youth.”
When we arrived on Tuesday, we were ignored by the staff, who pretended we did not exist (just as President Obama has done since he took office). He has deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president and the Morton Memo is a failure.
We have received tremendous support in the Denver community and throughout the nation, and this is only the beginning. President Obama is going after the Latino vote, but he must show that he cares about our community and the issues that are most important to us.
It is of dire importance for undocumented youth to take control of their lives and lead a movement that is truly “Undocumented and Unafraid.” Our voices WILL be heard!
The Denver Post wrote about the protest shortly after it began:
About three dozen immigration activists are protesting outside an Obama campaign office in Denver tonight, while two more activists have staged a sit-in inside the office.
The activists want President Barack Obama to sign an executive order ending the deportation of young, undocumented immigrants who would be eligible for conditional permanent residency under the DREAM Act. The activists waved signs and marched in a circle in front of the office, at 77 W. 9th Ave. They said they planned to spend the night in front of the office.
The two activists staging the sit-in inside the campaign office — Javier Hernandez, from Denver, and Veronica Gomez, from California — say they are undocumented and could face deportation if arrested for their protest.
“If that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes,” Gomez said.
So far, the campaign has not called the police on the protesters. Politics365 wrote an article about the protest titled, DREAMers: A Serious Problem for Obama 2012?, which includes another statement from the protesters:
Risking arrest, a group of DREAM eligible youth staged a protest in an Obama for America campaign office in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday. Their demand: the President should use his executive authority to stop the deportations of young people who were brought to this country as young children and who would be eligible for relief if the DREAM Act passed. If that bill were passed, it would provide a pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants who complete college or military service.
This action by the DREAMers in Colorado was not surprising to immigration politics observers. Earlier in the week the National Immigrant Youth Alliance sent out a statement demanding an executive order to halt the deportations of DREAM Act eligible youth. In that statement, the NIYA expressed disappointment that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had disregarded prosecutorial discretion guidelines that were supposed to prevent young people who were DREAM eligible from being removed. Furthermore, the youth led organization issued a firm warning to the administration:
“We hope that our call for an executive order has not fallen on deaf ears in the White House. If the Administration does not issue an executive order, we will be forced to respond with direct action in the coming days. The administration, by not taking action by means fully within its power, keeps our lives on hold. That position, for us, is no longer acceptable.”
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security issued a memo that provided ICE agents with guidelines in exercising prosecutorial discretion. The intention was for ICE to use its resources in removing undocumented folks who posed a risk to the country and to better prioritize the agency’s resources. Many activists were hoping that since President Obama signaled that he supports the DREAM Act and since many DREAMers are law abiding aside from their immigration status, this memo would provide some relief for the young people.
But the deportations continued.
It shouldn’t have to come to this.