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Florida State Reps. Asencio and Baez Lead Dreamer Dinner in Miami

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Florida State Representatives Robert Asencio and Daisy Baez, both Democrats, sat down with nearly a dozen Dreamers last night in Miami in the latest Dreamer Dinner.

Some of the Dreamers and DACA beneficiaries in attendance included Monica Lazaro, who studied chronic fatigue syndrome in college and now works in public health; Adrian Escarate, an immigration advocate who earned a masters in communications and also works as a tennis coach; Paula Muñoz, an asylee-turned-US citizen who escaped guerrilla warfare in Colombia with her family and is now a registered behavior technician who works with autistic children; and another Dreamer who majored in engineering and wants to open his own business.

Over a meal that included chicken, beef, mac and cheese, corn, and muffins, Reps. Asencio and Baez listened to the Dreamers’ stories, spoke about civic engagement and voting, expressed concerns about what the end of DACA will mean for south Florida, and committed to writing letters to the Trump Administration in support of DACA. As Rep. Asencio said in a statement:

I was honored to hear the incredible stories of these amazing individuals this past Sunday. Immigrant heritage is American heritage, and these young people, from all parts of the world, are what make our country so great. DACA has helped the lives of tens of thousands of people here in South Florida, and it is my sincere hope that our Florida Congressional delegation joins me in strongly urging President Donald J. Trump to renew DACA.

Part of the dinner’s conversation involved the 2018 elections and the importance of youth staying civically engaged. But the Dreamers said that they might not be able to afford being politically involved if DACA and their livelihoods are taken away from them — a point that Democrats should heed as they look to 2018 and beyond. As advocate Paula Muñoz paraphrased the conversation:

A lot of people were pointing out that, as much as [progressives] want us to be involved in 2018, right now we don’t have the capacity to think about anything beyond DACA. Reality is coming, and it’s going to be heavy. We can’t think about elections and the importance of elections because the reality is that we’re about to not be allowed to be in this country. People were saying, I may be losing everything on September 5.

Overall, those who attended commended Reps. Asencio and Baez for taking the time to come to the Dreamer Dinner and listen to the stories of immigrant youth. As Tomas Kennedy, an attendee and the deputy political director of FLIC Votes, said about the importance of the dinner:

In this time when so many people are at risk, it’s really important that elected officials are held accountable and take time to hear the stories of people directly affected by Trump’s immigration policies. All elected officials, no matter what party they’re from, should do their part to protect the immigrant community. Immigrants are here, they want to contribute, they’re a vital part of our society, and what’s happening is inhumane.

Dreamers and advocates are holding their breath this week in the wake of news that DACA may be rescinded in the next few days. DACA is a program which has helped almost 800,000 young immigrants over five years by allowing them to work in the country legally and live without fear of deportation. Without DACA, Dreamers all over the country will lose the massive ground they have gained since the program was put in place, and face deportation from the only home they’ve ever known. Our Dreamer Dinner series are intended to help spread the word about DACA, explain why it’s crucial, and build up support for Dreamers. Help us by hosting your own Dreamer Dinner today.

View some of the photos from the Dreamer Dinner below: