Yesterday, immigrant families, advocates, elected officials, business and faith leaders from across the country rallied together in a National Day of Action in support of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA).
Tuesday would have been the first day of DAPA’s implementation, but the program — which would allow millions of immigrant families to work legally and live without the daily fear of deportation — is on hold following a partisan lawsuit from the Republican Governors and Attorneys General from 26 states.
While advocates rallied in more than 20 states across the nation, some targeted Republicans who have had key roles in blocking deportation relief for millions of immigrants, many of whom have built families and deep roots in their states.
In Ohio, advocates and families directly impacted by the lawsuit delivered petitions to the office of Gov. John Kasich asking him and his Attorney General, Mike DeWine, to withdraw the state from the litigation.
The group was accompanied by DACA recipient Manny, who, ironically, was aided by Attorney General DeWine when he faced deportation in 2005.
“If our state leaders are going to take actions that affect real people in Ohio, they need to hear about the consequences for families, children, and taxpayers,” said Lynn Tramonte, the organizer of Ohio’s Voice.
In Nevada, members from the Culinary Union, PLAN, and Mi Familia Vota delivered a letter to the office of Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Laxalt has been under intense fire from Nevada families for adding the state to the lawsuit without so much as consulting his governor, Brian Sandoval, beforehand.
Nevada has the nation’s largest Latino population, and “at least 7.6 percent of Nevadans are undocumented, making it the state with the highest proportion of undocumented immigrants per capita.”
In Texas, dozens of immigrant families and groups protested into the late evening hours at the mansion of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has been leading the legal battle against President Obama’s immigration actions.
Texas would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of President Obama’s immigration programs. The Center For American Progress estimates that 594,000 undocumented immigrants are eligible for DAPA in Texas, and could bring in an additional $338 million in tax revenues over the next five years.
“My undocumented status affects my life every day, in small and big ways,” Margarita Rivera, a DAPA-eligible immigrant and member of the Texas Organizing Project, told MSNBC. “My husband and I own a business and are faithful taxpayers, but if we had DAPA, we would be able to do even more, like buy a house or hire more people. And most importantly to us, we wouldn’t live in constant fear of being separated from our three daughters who were born here.”
Additionally, members of Congress, including Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) held a press conference defending the necessity and legality of immigration action. They were joined by Rosario, a DAPA-eligible mom of a DREAMer and U.S. citizen, and Cristina Jimenez of United We DREAM.
Rosario tearfully recounted her American Dream of buying a home and being able to reunite with her third child, who lives in her home country. Jimenez called out Republicans for blocking immigration action while failing to offer any alternatives — other than deportation — of their own.
“What Republican has come out against this lawsuit to stand with our community? None,” Jimenez said. “All Republicans have done is promote an agenda of mass-deportation.”
Jimenez concluded: “I am also very determined, and I know our community is very determined to continue to push, to fight, to defend our victory in the streets, in the courts, wherever we need to do it. Because the same way in which we won DACA, which many said was impossible, and we won DAPA, which many said was impossible, we will one day very soon be celebrating my parents, who are going to be filing for that application, and millions of parents all across the country who will be doing that.”