Ratcheting up the pressure on the President and his re-election bid, DREAMers in Cincinnati, Ohio and in Dearborn, Michigan paid his campaign offices a visit to deliver hundreds of pages of petition signatures.
The ask: the President should use his executive authority to cease the deportations of DREAM eligible youth. In the meantime, replicating bold moves throughout the nation, the DREAMers plan to stage sit-ins in these locations and more.
The DREAM Act, which is over a decade old, is legislation that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth who have completed college and/or military service. Through the years, President Obama has indicated that he would support this legislation, but the last attempt at making this bill an actual law failed back in 2010 with a Democratic Congress.
Yesterday’s sit-ins come a week after a group of DREAMers staged a sit-in in Obama campaign offices in Denver, Colorado. The demand for an executive order from the President is the latest demand by immigration activists who have grown frustrated as they fight the deportations of DREAM eligible youth, many of whom have no criminal records and who should be eligible for prosecutorial discretion under the Morton memo, which was issued last year.
Last year activists were hopeful that the Department of Homeland Security would prioritize removals focusing on those immigrants with criminal records and who posed a true threat to national security. In the petition that DREAM Act youth have been delivering to Obama campaign offices, it states:
“President Obama tried his best to stop the deportation of hard-working immigrants by providing Prosecutorial Discretion for “low-priority” cases, including cases involving undocumented youth. Despite the President’s best efforts, there are still countless DREAMers being deported each day. It is time for President Obama to do the responsible thing and recognize that Prosecutorial Discretion is not working and use his power to grant an executive order stopping the deportation of DREAM Act eligible youth.”
Politic365 was able to speak with some of the youth who are involved in the sit-ins. In Dearborn, Michigan, Dayanna Rebolledo, a 22 year old who came to the U.S. when she was nine and is studying political science and secondary education at Marygrove College, explained that “President Obama is not keeping his word” in reference to the administration’s prosecutorial discretion guidelines.
Rebolledo also explained that when she and the other DREAMers entered the Dearborn campaign office that the staff wanted to put them in the back of the campaign office to “keep them in the shadows,” but the youth ended up occupying a space in the front so people outside of the building can see them. Recently, she indicated that there were about 50 supporters outside of the office.
Santiago Garcia, a 21 year old undocumented student who has been in the U.S. since he was three, was not in the Cincinnati campaign office but was providing support outside. He told Politic365 that there was one DREAMer and one ally in the campaign office. Garcia also indicated that campaign staff were friendly and told the two protesters that they had a right to express themselves.
When asked whether Obama’s failure to provide meaningful relief to DREAMers could cost him the election, Garcia added: ” … All I can say is that if we didn’t have to fight him [Obama] in order to hold him accountable to his words, we’d be going out there and volunteering for his campaign.”
Law professors and Senators have been saying for over a year that the President does have the legal authority to grant relief to DREAMers via executive order. So the request of DREAMers and petitioners is not unreasonable, especially given the administration’s record breaking deportations and low rate of immigration cases found eligible for administrative closure.
The Obama campaign is now at a critical juncture with Latino voters. This week SEIU and a Democratic super PAC launched a $4 million Spanish language ad campaign targeting Latino voters in key swing states. The DREAM Act is still extremely popular with this segment of voters. If Latino voters begin to take more notice of what’s going on with some of the most promising young people the community produces – who are driven to achieve despite their immigration status yet still find themselves at risk for removal – the Obama campaign will have some serious explaining to do as it tries to convince Latinos to support the President’s re-election.