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Catherine Cortez Masto the Latest to Host “DAPA Dinner” and Hear From Families Directly Affected by Immigration Stalemate

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Despite Invitations, Zero Republicans Have Attended

In Nevada yesterday, Democratic Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto became the latest candidate to attend a “DAPA Dinner” – an ongoing campaign that invites 2016 political candidates, Senators, Members of Congress, and other elected officials to join an immigrant family for a meal to learn how federal immigration policies affect children, families, and communities.

Previous DAPA Dinner attendees include a range of Democrats across the country, including: Secretary Hillary ClintonSenate Minority Leader Harry Reid (NV)Senators Dick Durbin (IL)Richard Blumenthal (CT), and Tim Kaine (VA)former Governor Martin O’Malley (MD)Representatives Ruben Gallego (AZ)Bill Foster (IL)Don Beyer (VA), and Gerry Connolly (VA)Senate candidate Ted Strickland (OH)State Senator Darren Soto (FL)Shadow Senators Michael Brown (DC) and Paul Strauss (DC); Shadow Representative Franklin Garcia (DC); and Councilmembers Anita Bonds (DC) and Brianne Nadeau (DC). Last year, Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) also sat down with DAPA-eligible families.

As the Associated Press in Nevada highlighted after yesterday’s event:

“Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto met for lunch Wednesday with families who live in the shadow of deportation, drawing parallels between their stories and her own family’s immigrant roots. The Democratic former Nevada attorney general met at Lindo Michoacan Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas with immigration activists and families who would’ve been eligible for deportation relief under Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, a now-suspended program that President Barack Obama called for through an executive order. ‘Your story is no different than mine. I just happen to be generations down from my grandfather, who came from Mexico,’ said Cortez Masto, who will be the first Latina in the U.S. Senate if she’s elected.

Her grandfather crossed the Rio Grande to settle in the U.S. in the 1940s, a time when the emphasis was on assimilating and learning English, she said. She explained at the event, which alternated between two languages, that she doesn’t speak Spanish fluently but can understand it. Some of the children and teenagers who attended tearfully told about their fears that their families would be separated by deportation. She vowed to stand by them and work on immigration reform. ‘I can’t imagine a worse thing in the world as a child – the concern you have every day that your parents may be taken away from you.’”

The Las Vegas Review-Journal also covered the proceedings, noting:

“With his daughter Brenda translating, Marvin Guigui, 46, said he and other immigrants came to the U.S. to work, not ‘rob or steal or rape like some candidates say,’ a reference to Republican nominee Donald Trump. He said it’s a difficult time with ‘fear,’ while waiting in limbo.

About 48,000 people in Nevada would qualify for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents program, according to estimates from the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan organization. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, created under executive order by President Barack Obama in 2012, had 13,485 initial Nevada applicants, as of March 31.”

Said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “Despite inviting candidates of both parties to break bread with these immigrant families, zero Republicans across the country have taken up the offer.  Yet it’s Republicans who stand to gain the most from hearing directly from their constituents on this issue.

“After blocking an immigration reform legislative overhaul last Congress, the GOP then worked against the DAPA and expanded DACA executive actions announced by President Obama and even brought a lawsuit that led to the current impasse.  Senate Republicans are also blocking reasonable consideration of Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court.  They are doing everything they can to stop progress on immigration, and nothing at all to address it.  And they’re doing this without even taking the time to sit down and hear from constituents – including U.S. citizens and voters – whose families are directly impacted.

“The Democrats who have attended DAPA Dinners report a better understanding of the stakes of these policies and the real people behind them.  Republicans, however, are too afraid to face the real people whose lives they are hurting and are simply ignoring these people’s pain.  Pro-immigrant voters will remember who stood with them and who stood against them in November.”