BRIEFING: United We Dream Talks About Meeting Obama and Proposed Immigration Plans
"DREAMers are ready and excited for this fight, we won't stop until we win, and our network is really ready to take on this historical opportunity," said Cristina Jiminez, managing director of United We Dream—a network of youth-led immigrant organizations around the country—in regards to the sit-down she and other immigration activists had with President Obama to discuss comprehensive immigration reform yesterday.
Jiminez told reporters on a press call that during the meeting immigrant advocacy groups spoke out against the inhumane deportation practices and shared individual stories of how the procedures caused immense pain for them and the American communities they're contributing members of.
"The President was clear about affirming his commitment to make immigration reform his legislative priority and very articulate about his interest in pushing this bill forward to find a permanent solution," said Jiminez. "We challenged him about how Homeland Security has been working on enforcement and though we felt listened to, he continued to emphasize his interest in pushing the legislation."
Despite the president's cautious political dance, voices of young immigrant activists are strong and their 20-point policy proposal will be critical in creating inclusive reform on all fronts—in creating a plan that won't relegate immigrants to second-class status.
Among these points included a call to abolish the arbitrary 400,000 deportations per year quota, place undocumented on the path to permanent residency within two years—and citizenship within five. In the absence of a written piece of legislation from the so-called "Gang of Eight" or the Obama administration, it is impossible to discern where the fight will be most challenging for immigrant activists.
It's clear though from the call that UWD activists and the entire immigrant rights movement are ready to use their extensive network and incredible organizing power to push for reform as they did when Obama stepped up to the plate with the executive-ordered deferred action (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which granted two-year deportation reprieves for undocumented youth who were either in school or provided military service. To qualify for deferred action, one also has to have an impeccably clean criminal record.
Emma Weinstein Levey is a reporter at Campus Progress.Follow her on Twitter @ebwlevey.
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