One year ago, the weekend of the Original Muslim Ban (it hurts to have to specify *which* Muslim Ban), I got an email from the ACLU about a last-minute protest at O’Hare’s international terminal that Sunday.
The excuses quickly flooded in. It’s too cold, O’Hare is a long trip, I’ll have plenty of other (warmer) chances to show solidarity…
Ultimately, it was my Jewish identity that got me off the couch, out of my sweatpants and on the train to the airport. With the powerful memory of Jews getting turned away from Ellis Island in 1939, Jewish people in particular have a duty to stand up for immigrants and refugees to make sure that what happened to us never happens again.
At the recent JCUA immigration committee meeting, this sentiment was palpable. We unanimously decided to break with tradition and focus on a national issue: The imminent deportation of Dreamers – the children of illegal immigrants brought to the United States at a young age – was too dire not to take immediate action.
So what needs to happen? Congress needs to pass a clean, bipartisan DREAM Act which would provide a path to citizenship for minors who were brought to the country by their parents. President Trump has rescinded DACA, meaning that the Obama administration’s temporary protection for these young immigrants will expire on March 5. About 800,000 young American residents, required by DACA to have a clean criminal record, face being sent back to countries they don’t recognize and don’t even speak the language.
What are we doing? We are holding our U.S. reps accountable, urging them not to pass a budget until a clean DREAM Act is passed. Clean – as in, without the border security provisions that President Trump wants to include. Yes, President Trump is using the lives of these young people, who’ve known no other country besides this one, as a bargaining chip to get his wall. Senator Dick Durbin has championed the DREAM Act since introducing it in 2001, but not all Illinois reps (including Dems) are committed enough to rock the budget process over getting this bill passed. Senator Tammy Duckworth, Representative Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Representative Peter Roskam (IL-6) need to hear from their constituents – that’s you! The DREAM Act is bipartisan. The wall and border control policy has nothing to do with these young people who are already here, contributing to society, calling this country home.