A strong, unified response to DACA rescission – and a call to action

Dreamers poster at MIRA rally
About 300 people gathered outside Faneuil Hall to show solidarity for Dreamers and vow to fight for them and all immigrants.

At a MIRA press conference and rally, elected officials, community leaders, Dreamers and allies vowed to fight to protect young immigrants, from the federal to the local level.

BOSTON, September 5, 2017 – Today, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has enabled nearly 800,000 young people to come out of the shadows, attend college and work legally, will be phased out.

No new DACA applications will be accepted, but those already submitted will be processed, and anyone whose DACA benefits are set to expire between now and March 5 has until October 5 to apply for renewal.

President Trump said it’s now up to Congress to decide these young people’s fate. Several bills have already been filed – from the DREAM Act to the short-term BRIDGE Act. But at a press conference and a rally organized by MIRA yesterday, one message was loud and clear: We’re fighting back.

“This is pure political pandering, at the expense of 800,000 innocent, hard-working people,” said Eva A. Millona, executive director of MIRA. We will advocate for passage of the DREAM Act, she said, and within Massachusetts, push for the Safe Communities Act and educational equity legislation.

“We will not give up, and we will not lose hope,” Millona said. “We will stand with the nearly 8,000 Dreamers in our Commonwealth and do everything in our power to protect and provide for them.”

U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey called the DACA rescission “heartbreaking… unjust and …plain evil.” He predicted a “political juggernaut” of calls and protests, and he vowed to “fight every day” until Congress approves legislation that enables Dreamers to stay in the U.S. and provides a path to citizenship.

Attorney General Maura T. Healey, who is working on possible litigation to defend DACA and protect Dreamers’ rights, called the decision to end the program “shameful.”

“Dreamers are Americans,” she said. “They may not be citizens, but they sure are Americans. They’ve grown up in our neighborhoods, they’ve attended our schools, they’ve found jobs, they’ve served our country in our military, they’ve started businesses, contribute to the economy, pay taxes – they have done everything asked of them and more.”

“These Dreamers are as American as Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “This is worse than a broken promise; this is betrayal.” With Schools Supt. Tommy Chang at his side, the mayor reassured immigrants that they are safe in Boston and offered the city’s full support.

Diana Ortiz
Diana Ortiz speaks at the press event.

Diana Ortiz, a Dreamer who came to the U.S. from Mexico and has gone on to earn a master’s degree from Harvard University, offered a powerful personal perspective on how DACA has transformed lives – and also what it would mean to lose it now.

“Our parents were the original Dreamers,” bringing their children to the U.S. to provide a better future, Ortiz said. Yet without DACA, the younger generation would be forced to work underground in menial jobs, regardless of their skills and education.

Filipe Zamborlini, a Brazilian immigrant who was in DACA until obtaining a green card last year, said young people will not give up. “Now we’ll fight. We are not losing hope,” he said.

In the afternoon, about 300 people gathered at a MIRA rally in Samuel Adams Park outside Faneuil Hall, including state and local officials; Mohamad Ali, CEO of Carbonite; labor leaders; community activists, and several Dreamers. The speakers again condemned the Trump administration’s actions – but they also stressed the need for state- and local-level action.

State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, D-Boston, called for passage of her bill to extend in-state tuition at Massachusetts public colleges and universities to all local high school graduates – not those just with DACA. Rep. Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge, and several speakers called for passage of the Safe Communities Act as well, to protect immigrant rights and public safety.

“There are no days off in the fight for justice,” said Liza Ryan, director of organizing at MIRA. “These days demand leadership, and Massachusetts has to stand up and show that we can be just as brave as the young people who took the risk and trusted our federal government with their future.”

See Eva Millona’s full statement about the DACA rescission ►

Sonia Chang-Diaz
State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz speaks at the MIRA rally, calling for passage of educational equity legislation that she is sponsoring.