North Carolina Youth Hold Vigil Outside Courthouse to Demand DREAM Act Now
By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
Last week, youth in Raleigh, North Carolina organized a rally outside of a courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina to protest the lack of progress there has been on relief for the nearly 800,000 DREAMers who came to the United States when they were children.
“They made a casket with the word Dreams written on it, and at the end of the vigil, we opened the casket and white balloons were released symbolizing that we will not allow our dreams to die,” recalled Miguel Figueras, Youth Program Coordinator at El Pueblo, Inc., an UnidosUS Affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Scroll down to see more photos and a video.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, was a program originally created by the Obama administration in 2012. While DACA was never amnesty, and did not offer a pathway to citizenship for the nearly 800,000 young people enrolled, it provided them with a temporary deferral of deportation, along with a two-year, renewable work permit.
North Carolina is home to 27,385 DREAMers, with data from the Migration Policy Institute estimating that as many as 66,000 North Carolinians were eligible for the program.
In fact, North Carolina has the seventh highest population of DREAMers in the United States, making the issue of relief for these young people of particular importance for many communities across the state.
Five members of the El Pueblo Youth Council who participated in the protest shared their stories, along with one member of El Pueblo’s newly formed Adult Council, about what DACA has meant to them, and why passing a clean DREAM bill is needed now more than ever.
When the Trump administration announced the end of DACA, Trump allowed for a six-month “wind down,” to give Congress enough time to come up with a legislative solution for the nearly 800,000 young people who were enrolled in the program.
However, while DACA “winds down,” an estimated 122 people a day are losing their status, along with the chance to study, work, and provide for their families in the United States. Each day that passes without relief only means that more people are losing the opportunities that they worked for.
At the end of the vigil, white balloons were released from the casket. Each white balloon had a word written on it—doctor, lawyer, engineer, and more—symbolizing dreams deferred or in jeopardy as a result of the steps that the Trump administration took to end DACA, as well as Congress’s inaction on relief for DREAMers.
WE NEED RELIEF FOR DREAMERS NOW!
Relief for DREAMers can’t wait. Polls also show that Americans overwhelmingly support DREAMers being able to stay in this country.
That’s why we join with El Pueblo and young people across the country in calling on Congress to pass a DREAM Act now! These youth—and our country—cannot wait until next year.