“Attention, presidential candidates: If they haven’t already…Iowa DREAMers are coming for you.”
In a must-read piece, the Des Moines Register profiles the young activists driving the immigration debate in Iowa as both Democratic and Republican Presidential candidates visit to draw support for next year’s first-in-the-nation caucuses.
In particular, the profile highlights the work of members of DREAM Iowa, a group founded by sisters Monica Reyes, Nilvia Brownson, and their friend Hector Salamanca in 2012 (all DACA recipients).
“With no right to vote, Iowa millennials who lack legal residency are using their voices through DREAM Iowa,” said the Register, “and slowly growing [it] into a statewide advocacy group for immigration reform.”
And, the conversation the three DREAMers are leading hasn’t been just limited to Iowa, either. In videos that have caught the attention of national press, Reyes has confronted Presidential candidates from Hillary Clinton, to Bernie Sanders, to a slightly-confused Jeb Bush:
In one video, Monica Reyes puts her arm around Jeb Bush and peers up at him. She asks in Spanish about his thoughts on DACA, a policy that grants young immigrants like Reyes temporary stay in the United States. Bush replies in Spanish,”DACA is … which one is DACA?”
In another, Reyes, 24, who came to the United States illegally from Mexico as a child, waits along a crowded rope line to ask Hillary Clinton about “Obama’s delay on immigration.” “Well, I think we have to just keep working,” says Clinton, without making eye contact. “We can’t ever stop working.”
In a third, Reyes stands up at a Bernie Sanders event and asks again about Obama’s delay. “I think he should have acted,” Sanders says.
“We’re trying to get the ones, especially, who might have changing opinions on immigration or who are kind of fuzzy,” Reyes said. “We really want to see what their stance is.”
Later this month, the group is also set host a bipartisan panel on immigration, Unite Iowa, which will be moderated by Register columnist Kyle Munson and will feature Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.
From the Des Moines Register:
Few issues loom more controversially over the 2016 race in Iowa than immigration. More than 80 percent of Republicans and Democrats likely to attend the caucuses want candidates to talk a lot about it, according to a late May Iowa Poll.
The topic’s spotlight comes in a year when GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump described people who entered the United States illegally as “in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.,” and in a state with a Republican congressman, Steve King, who said in 2013 that many such immigrants have “calves the size of cantaloupes” from smuggling drugs into the U.S.
But when Reyes, a Waterloo resident, thinks of people who are in the U.S. illegally, she doesn’t think of hardened criminals. She thinks of her family. She thinks of her friends. She thinks of herself.
And the next president’s stance on immigration may determine whether she, her family and 11 million others like her can stay in the United States.