As we neared a second government shutdown last week after three previous failed negotiations on the Dream Act, racist and divisive legislative proposals from Republican leadership, and no prospect of a permanent solution for immigrant youth reaching a vote soon, we took to the streets and took over the halls of Congress.
On February 7, the National Day of Action for the Dream Act, I joined over 70 Dreamers and allies in a civil disobedience action to tell members of Congress they cannot continue to negotiate our lives away. As a transgender Mexican man with a large mixed-status family and extensive chosen family of trans and queer undocumented folks, I am often paralyzed by fear of what this country’s leadership is doing to my family. I participated in this action because I refuse to allow the love and struggle of our ancestors, the values of immigrant communities, or our stories of resilience to be told by those who believe we are rapists, gang members, terrorists, lazy, and in any way un-American.
We are communities held together by hard-working immigrant women with an unyielding determination to offer our children the opportunities of this country, people who face tremendous sacrifice and push forward with a clear vision of liberation in mind. We are transgender asylum seekers escaping life-threatening violence hoping for a fighting chance at life, only to risk re-victimization within a broken system that allows for pervasive sexual abuse and discrimination. We are out of the closets and out of the shadows, we are fighting for our nation’s promise of a better tomorrow, and as we chanted during the action:
We have come too far,
We can’t turn around,
We’ll flood the streets with justice,
We are freedom bound.
As of now, the government is funded until March 22nd, DACA recipients remain at risk of losing their livelihoods and protected status, and the final March 5th deadline on a DACA solution is looming over 800,000 immigrant families as Congress struggles to do its job.
As early as today, the Senate is expected to pick up the immigration debate in the form of a neutral “shell bill” that members and leadership from both parties will offer amendments to. With an overwhelming majority of Americans and Congress supporting a clean Dream Act, we call on the Senate to pass a narrow bill that gives all Dreamers a pathway to citizenship, doesn’t limit family reunification, and includes only minimal, sensible border security. A measure that includes Trump’s demands for a militarized border wall or an end to diversity visas and family unification must not reach the necessary 60 votes to pass the Senate.
Every week, hundreds of Dreamers lose their work permits and protection from deportation. Congress must act NOW.
To my undocumented LGBTQ family:
I see you, I hear you, I am committed to mobilizing in our communities, and I am ready to give what you need from me!
Want to share a message of love with immigrant communities?
Participate in the “To Immigrants with Love” letter writing campaign.
A message to Congress:
Our movement for liberation is not losing steam. Will you fight on the right side of history, or will you defy the American people and our values by forcing the removal of our neighbors, families and friends? Know that with every legislative failure, every deportation, every empty promise and missed deadline, we grow stronger and more unified.
We are organized, we are vigilant, and we will be at the voting booth with the same rigor we take to the streets. Make no mistake, in the fight for the soul of our nation — we will win.
Kory Masen is the Racial and Economic Justice Policy Advocate at NCTE.