Columbus, OH – Last night, Columbus Councilwoman Elizabeth Brown joined immigrant families, Avanza Together, and Ohio’s Voice for the first “Dreamer Dinner,” a new America’s Voice campaign to bring together immigrant families and elected officials for a meal to discuss how federal immigration policies affect children, families and the communities where they live and work. With the Trump Administration weighing whether to eliminate DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, young people who are American in all but paperwork are wondering whether they will lose their work permits, be exposed by deportation, and lose their ability to support their families and improve their communities.
Photos from last night’s event are available here.
According to Councilwoman Brown:
DACA recipients are young people whose lives are filled with promise. They are taxpayers, and they’re our neighbors. We must stand with them and against any threat to the proven success that is the DACA program.
Over supper, Councilwoman Brown, eight DACA-recipients, high school, undergraduate and graduate students, young professionals, and families discussed the impacts of DACA for the nation and Ohio. The program provides new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America, including nearly 4,500 in Ohio.
In light of the Trump administration’s ramped up deportation force, the City Council, under Brown’s Leadership, recently developed a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation. “It’s incumbent on us as local lawmakers, even when we can’t change federal law, to understand what we can do to help immigrants and refugees in our community because our economy is at stake,” Brown explained to WOSU public radio.
Matt Hildreth, Political Director of America’s Voice and a resident of Columbus, said:
Thousands of Ohioan millennials and their families benefit from DACA, and we’re not going to let the Trump administration senselessly revoke this program without a fight. Currently, these Dreamers have no pathway to adjust their immigration status, which means that they could lose their work permits and driver’s license and possibly even face deportation, if the DACA program is terminated by Donald Trump. We launched Dreamer Dinners to unite our community and reinforce the values we hold – inclusion and commitment to bettering our state. The Columbus City Council, led by Councilwoman Brown, is standing with the immigrant community. Ohio is grateful for their leadership.
According to Virginia Nunes Gutierrez, Co-Founder and Board Chair of Avanza Together:
Nights like last night are extremely important. We need to show the faces and learn about the lives of the people that are affected by policies and legislature. We believe that it is crucial to foster an environment where our elected officials can hear directly from those affected. When your hear these stories of resiliency and courage from these amazing young DREAMERS it becomes more than a policy or a law that is passed, it becomes personal. It turns us all into advocates for these amazing young people.
America’s Voice launched the Dreamer Dinners campaign in response to the latest threat to the DACA program. A coordinated assault on DACA, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, hardline state AGs in nine other states, and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is trying to force President Trump into ending the program. The Republican state officials are threatening that if the Trump Administration doesn’t end DACA by September 5th, they will sue to block the program before the notoriously anti-immigrant Judge Andrew Hanen of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. U.S. Attorney General Sessions has long opposed DACA and would only have to refuse to defend the program in court for it to come to an end.