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Rep. Ruben Gallego Meets with Arizona Immigrant Youth As Part of “Dreamer Dinners” Campaign

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PHOENIX, AZ – Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07) joined Arizona immigrant youth to discuss how the repeal of DACA will affect immigrant youth and their families and to commit to pushing policies locally and nationally to protect the 800,000 Dreamers from deportation. In Rep. Gallego’s district, there are 10,000 DACA-recipients and over 15,000 who are DACA-eligible. 

Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), said:

The Dreamers I spoke with last night are hardworking young people who want nothing more than to continue to give back to the country they call home – just like the other 800,000 Dreamers whose lives are in limbo after President Trump cruelly and callously ended the DACA program. The uncertainty these Dreamers and their families are facing is heart wrenching, and a solution lies completely within the control of the Republican Congressional leadership. Paul Ryan needs to allow a vote on a clean DREAM Act immediately. 

Daniela Benitez, said:

I feel empowered and like there are better things coming our way. We want elected officials to support our parents too, and all undocumented people, not just DREAMers. I appreciate Congressman Gallego meeting with us today, and I hope to meet with all of the AZ representatives.” 

Veronica Benitez, said:

After talking with Congressman Gallego, I feel motivated to go out and pressure other politicians who haven’t decided where they stand yet, to make sure they do the right thing. I feel more powerful, to keep fighting to get the support we need for the DREAM Act. 

Tony Valdovinos, said:

I love this country. I wanted to serve in the Marines, but I was turned away because of my status. So, I’ve been working to get progressive people elected, people who support DREAMers, who can change the laws to open the doors to DREAMers who want to serve, work, and give to this country. 

Elizabeth Pérez, said:

We are more than just DACA students. We are Americans, we are humans, with full lives of our own. This rushed renewal period was an unexpected financial burden on our families and our communities. We had to make tough choices, and sacrifice in other ways – even not getting groceries or paying rent – in order to pay for the renewal. That’s inhumane.

The DACA program is an unqualified success, providing new opportunities and futures for nearly 800,000 Dreamers who live, study, and work in America, including 52,000 who are DACA-eligible in Arizona. Each DACA recipient has come forward, passed a background check and been granted permission to live and work legally in America. As a result, many have been able to fulfill their dreams of attending and completing college; most are working legally, paying taxes and providing for their families; and all are finding ways to contribute to the country they call home without fear of deportation.

See below for additional information on the Dreamers who attended this week’s dinner.

Daniela Benitez was born in Guerrero, Mexico in 1999. After applying for DACA for the first time this summer, Daniela began volunteering with non-profit organization LUCHA to help applicants file their DACA renewals at no cost.

Veronica Benitez was born in Guerrero, Mexico in 1996. She is a DACA recipient, works at a call center and volunteers with LUCHA to help other Dreamers. Veronica was an active part of the historic, grassroots effort to register more than 150,000 Arizona voters in 2016. 

** Daniela & Veronica are sisters.** 

Tony Valdovinos is a 27-year old DACA recipient, who became active in politics and community activism after being denied entry to the Marines due to his legal status. In 2011, Tony was one of the founding members of Team Awesome, a team of Dreamers who canvassed to get progressives elected to the Phoenix City Council. Tony then founded his own business, La Machine, focused on executing grassroots activism, community engagement, and voter contact programs, in Arizona and the Southwest.

Elizabeth Pérez, B.S. in Justice Studies (ASU, 2017), was born in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico, and received her DACA in 2013. Ellie is a seasoned community organizer and campaign operative. She was the first DREAMer to work for the City of Phoenix, on Councilwoman Kate Gallego’s staff. A Leading For Change Fellow, Ellie also was recognized as one of 40 under 40 Latino Leaders.

The “Dreamer Dinners” initiative invites Members of Congress and local elected officials to join an immigrant family for a meal to discuss how federal immigration actions impact children, families, and communities. This campaign is a spinoff of the “DAPA Dinners Campaign” – read more about that initiative here.