Editor’s Note: Greisa Martinez Rosas would qualify for the Dream Act and serves as the Advocacy Director of United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. The opinions expressed this commentary are solely those of the author.
This week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke in Congress for eight hours straight about immigrant youth. She shared our stories and called for passage of the Dream Act.
Yet, while she was speaking, Democratic and Republican party leaders were writing a budget deal that would leave protections for immigrant youth out in exchange for dollars on other projects.
Our lives — and the moral compass of this country — are in real danger and yet Congress is playing games with both.
Speeches, empty promises and crocodile tears will not protect me or my sisters from deportation agents. Only votes from Congress can do that.
At a CNN town hall one year ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan told my friend Angelica that she would be safe, yet we now live in danger of being picked up and taken to detention centers by Donald Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement squads.
We are tired of speeches, tweets and promises that are not followed by solutions. This is especially true for Democrats and moderate Republicans who say that they support us when the cameras are rolling but repeatedly cave to Trump’s bullying.
Earlier this week, the Senate’s Democratic Leader, Chuck Schumer, crafted a deal that, cruelly, will do nothing to stop the pain and the deportations. And Thursday night, Nancy Pelosi failed to whip her caucus to use its leverage to protect us, as 73 Democrats voted with Republicans for the budget deal and secured nothing from Paul Ryan.
In this leadership moment, where they had their opportunity to fight back against Trump’s racist policies, the Democrats stood down and the deportations continue to escalate.
They did this over the wishes of the American people. Polls consistently show voters across the political spectrum supporting citizenship for immigrant youth over the Trump administration’s vision of mass deportation.
Immigrant youth and our allies in cities, towns, and states across the country have generated bipartisan, broad and deep support for passage of the Dream Act in Congress.
We have created the political and moral conditions for Congress to use its leverage to protect the lives of immigrant youth and stand up to Trump. The world now must wonder if there exists in Congress a resistance to Trump’s unpopular vision.
As ICE and Border Patrol agents board buses and trains to ask citizens and non-citizens alike for their papers, as children are dragged to detention camps and thousands of immigrant youth lose their jobs and become vulnerable, one has to wonder what it will take.
The stakes are incredibly high. Millions of us have no protection from deportation at all and those who are now protected are becoming increasingly vulnerable. Since Trump announced last fall that he was ending the DACA program, more than 19,000 immigrant youth have lost their protections from deportation, 850 more lose it every week and on March 5, Trump has decided that it will end for all of us. Nearly every day, I hear of another friend who loses protection.
While Trump’s top immigration agent announced last June that we undocumented immigrants “need to be worried,” and that no undocumented person would be off the table, young immigrants have continued to hear from politicians of every stripe (even Trump!) that this is our home and that they love us. Yet they continue to play cruel games with our lives.
Trump is killing DACA, putting me at risk, and now says he will only protect me if the country buys his plans to deport our families and end family immigration for all. It is blackmail — pure and simple.
Those who claim to stand in the way of Trump’s racist policies give us only speeches. Just weeks ago at the Women’s March, I watched former Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine speak of his admiration for immigrant youth to great applause. The women there chanted “Dream Act Now” but just days, later, Kaine voted to give up the fight to protect us.
Immigrant youth, people of color, faith leaders, women and millions of allies are putting our bodies on the line every day to resist Trump and fight for a better and fairer country.
Leader Pelosi, House Democrats and the Republicans who say they stand with immigrant youth and the promise of Lady Liberty have a decision to make.
Will they use their leverage to save the lives of immigrants or will they continue to enable our abuser?