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Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Meets With DREAMers, DAPA-Eligible Parents

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Yesterday afternoon, Senator Bernie Sanders became the latest 2016 Presidential candidate to sit down with DAPA-eligible immigrants.

Senator Sanders was joined by his campaign’s Latino Outreach Strategist, DREAMer Erika Andiola. They hosted other DREAMers, refugees from El Salvador and Bangladesh, an undocumented transgender woman, and parents eligible for relief from deportation under DAPA.

All shared their incredibly personal stories of struggle and resilience with Senator Sanders, who voiced his support for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship. Senator Sanders made clear that if Congress again refuses to act on legislation, he would use his executive powers under the fullest extent of the law to protect immigrant families from separation.

Senator Sanders also slammed the call for mass-deportation, an extreme vision once confined to the fringe right, but introduced to the 2016 Presidential election by the leading GOP candidate, Donald Trump.

“The vast majority of people in this country are rejecting the outrageous idea, the un-American idea, that somehow we’re going to sweep out in the middle of the night, nine to 11 million people and throw them out of the country,” said Senator Sanders.

“Very few people think that is right, is what America is about, or is what we should be doing.”

Teresa, a DAPA-eligible mom, said her undocumented status makes her live in fear, but she continues to fight for her family to stay together.

During the talk, Senator Sanders also pledged to end the detention of LGBTQ undocumented immigrants:

The Vermont independent, running for the Democratic presidential nomination, made the pledge in response to a question from a transgender woman who was among undocumented immigrants gathered at his Washington campaign office to discuss his “Families First” immigration plan. Sanders has proposed ending detention of families in the country illegally, but Catalina Velasquez wanted to know what he’d do regarding members of the LGBTQ community. Velasquez, president and founder of a strategic policy, communications and diversity firm, came to the U.S. as a child from Colombia in 2002. She is undocumented but is protected from deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Velasquez said detained LGBTQ immigrants face higher rates of sexual assault than other detainees, are often forced into segregated housing, and have been denied gender-affirming medication. “We’re facing disproportionate effects in this environment,” she said. Sanders said he’s “more than conscious” of discrimination against the LGBTQ community. “You have my pledge right now as somebody who believes in a society in which we must end all forms of discrimination that that will become part of our policy,” he said.

Watch the entire event with Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and those most affected by our nation’s broken immigration system, including DAPA-eligible parents, below:

Senator Sanders’s event was inspired in part by “DAPA Dinners”, a joint effort between America’s Voice, United We Dream Action and Center for Community Change Action/Fair Immigration Reform Movement, as well as state and local groups across the nation, that has invited every presidential candidate—both Republican and Democrat—to attend a DAPA Dinner.

“DAPA Dinners” gives leaders a chance to sit down with families affected by the lawsuit blocking the implementation of DAPA, and the lack of comprehensive immigration reform.

So far, at the presidential level, Martin O’Malley has taken up the offer, while Carly Fiorina has been the only candidate to officially decline.  DAPA Dinners have also been hosted by Senator Richard Durbin, Rep. Ruben Gallego, and Rep. Bill Foster, with others in the works.