Cleveland, OH – Today, Indivisible CLE, DreamActivist Ohio, and the InterReligious Task Force on Central America joined Cleveland Jobs with Justice, Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, America’s Voice: Ohio, and local Dreamers and advocates urged Senator Portman to support passage of the Dream Act in acreative and symbolic action representing Ohio’s Dreamers and the voters who support them.
The group unveiled and delivered 850 personalized Dreamer figures, signed by Ohioans who support passing the Dream Act, to Senator Portman’s Cleveland office. Linked together “hand-to-hand,” the Dreamer figures would cover more than 1.5 football fields. Each cutout person represents 15 Ohio Dreamers, who have the backing of 7,300 Ohio voters each.
The groups are targeting Senator Portman, because he has yet to cosponsor the Dream Act, and his support would be influential in getting Republican leaders to schedule it for a vote. Senator Sherrod Brown is already a supporter of the Dream Act, and he voted for the bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 and included Dreamer-related provisions. Senator Portman voted against that bill .
After unveiling the Dreamer paper chain, local Dreamer Jose Mendez read a letter to Senator Rob Portman, and he and a contingent of others entered the Federal Building to present the letter and Dreamer chain to Portman’s office.
Mendez, also the Cleveland Director for DreamActivist Ohio, said, “DACA helped me and my family so much. It made it possible for me to go to college and get a job as a security guard, protecting Americans. It has allowed me to help pay the bills for my family, which includes my parents and two U.S. citizen siblings. When I heard that Trump was canceling DACA, I got angry and then I got active. I don’t know what I would do if I can no longer work and drive legally. I pay taxes like any other Ohioan. Senator Portman, I need you and your colleagues in Congress to pass the Dream Act this year.”
According to Ethan Goodman and Suzy Scullin, Lead Organizers with Indivisible CLE: “We urge Senator Rob Portman to protect the 13,000+ Dreamers in Ohio, and be the voice of action. The United States of America is founded on immigrants. They are the backbone of this country; our bridges, train-tracks, and roads were built by their blood, sweat, and tears. It would be naive to say that immigrants in the past did not break laws to stay in this country, so why would we start emphasizing “illegal immigration” now? We need a clean path to ensure that the Dreamers of this country have the opportunity to stay in the only country they have ever known. Senator Portman, vote YES on the Dream Act and push your colleagues to do the same.”
Brian Stefan-Szittai, Co-coordinator of The InterReligious Task Force on Central America said: “Our government needs to protect these young people, many of them who came from Mexico and Central America where families experience incredible pressures caused by entrenched structural violence – US militarized violence, gang violence, and economic violence—that puts enormous pressure on them to migrate north in order to survive.”
According to Deb Kline, Director of Cleveland Jobs with Justice : “We are calling on Senator Rob Portman to take action to protect the 13,000 Dreamers in Ohio. Many are former DACA recipients who are already working and therefore contributing to our economy. It just does not make sense for our government to take away their work permits and drive them into the underground economy. Many Dreamers came to this country as babies; they grew up here, this is the only country they have ever known. Deporting them now would be one of the greatest injustices this country has ever seen. We hope that Senator Rob Portman will do his part to ensure that Congress passes a clean Dream Act before it is too late.”
Don Bryant, President of Greater Cleveland Immigrant Support Network, said: “DREAMers are model residents in our cities and our nation, they pass the highest bar of scrutiny by multiple law enforcement agencies, most are in school, working or in the military; they are consumers and taxpayers. DACA and the DREAM Act should be considered an economic stimulus plan as DREAMers contribute $640 billion to the gross domestic product every ten years.”
And Steven Volk, Professor of History Emeritus, Oberlin College; U.S. Professor of the Year, 2011 said: “The DACA students I have had the great privilege to teach have worked twice as hard while carrying twice the burden of other students. I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments, as they are, beyond a doubt, among our best and our brightest. The Dream Act will give these Dreamers and achievers the security they deserve to continue to contribute to the future of America, the country they have made their own. To abandon them is to abandon our own children.”
Other supporters of the Dream Act include Ohio faith leaders, university presidentsand other educators, labor unions, businesses, and state and local officials.
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