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Last week, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) held a Labor Day Dreamer Dinner in her Seattle, Washington office, one day before Trump announced his decision to end DACA and officially threw the lives of 800,000 DACA recipients into uncertainty.
Dreamer Dinners have been taking place across the country this summer as Dreamers and advocates have sat down with elected officials to discuss the importance of DACA and protecting Dreamers after the program’s end. In the last week, House and Senate Democrats have made it clear that they stand with Dreamers and support the Dream Act (DACA’s legislative equivalent), though no timetable yet exists for pursuing legislation.
At the Seattle Dreamer Dinner, DACA recipients in attendance shared the stories of their lives, how DACA has affected them, and the consequences of the program being gone.
Paul Quinonez came from Mexico at the age of seven and said that the end of DACA would throw his life into chaos. “While we know DACA wasn’t going to be permanent it has been a lifeline for many people,” he told Q13Fox, not having DACA means “I would lose my job, I wouldn’t be able to provide for myself, be able to pay rent and I wouldn’t have access to healthcare anymore.”
Graciela Nunez Paragas said DACA has enabled her to go to college and earn internships in Washington, DC, and that she wasn’t going to stop fighting for Dreamers like herself. “We are valuable, we are American taxpayers, so we’re using this as basis to really fight for our rights for a permanent legislative solution from Congress,” Graciela said.
High school senior Zawadi Chege came to the US when she was one year old and didn’t learn that she was undocumented until the sixth grade, when her best friend’s family was deported. She applied for DACA eight months ago, and has still not heard back from USCIS, leaving her afraid that she’ll be unable to attend her dream school, Gonzaga. As she said about the end of DACA:
It makes me sad. It makes me angry that somebody can just cut the program like that without knowing what it feels like to go through that or to have someone close to them be deported.
Following the dinner, Rep. Jayapal underscored her support for the Dreamers and the passage of a clean Dream Act through Congress. As she said in a statement:
My dinner with Dreamers underscored one thing: These young men and women are as American as it gets, and it is their stories that can move a nation to action. I have fought alongside Dreamers and their parents as an activist and advocate for more than a decade, and I have watched them overcome incredible challenges on the path to realizing their dreams. Once again, we will have to take our fight to the street to defeat the heartless attempt to rescind their status and to pass a clean 2017 Dream Act in Congress. Our Dreamers belong here in our communities, and with strong youth at the core of our movement and with overwhelming support across the country, we WILL win.
Video of the dinner
View Q13 Fox coverage
View tweets from the dinner
Tonight, I’m having dinner with DREAMers from our Puget Sound region. We will fight for DACA, and defend them from Donald Trump’s threats. pic.twitter.com/qhq3RKa3o5
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) September 5, 2017
— LiLi Tan (@lilitan) September 5, 2017
— Ranji Sinha (@RanjiKIRO7) September 5, 2017