Deportation ‘Deffered’: DREAMers Celebrate Victory on Immigration
A coalition of DREAMers, community organizers, immigration advocacy groups and their various allies celebrated a hard-fought-for victory outside the White House Friday afternoon after President Barack Obama's wrapped up his remarks about the Department of Homeland Security's drastic shift in immigration policy that would suspend deportation and grant work authorization to undocumented DREAM Act-eligible youths.
"The president made history today and opened the door for millions of young people to pursue their dreams,"said Deepak Bhargava, the executive director of the Center for Community Change."This will permanently change the debate."
Throngs of DREAMers and their supporters from the National Council of la Raza, Amnesty International and Jews United for Justice, among others shouted "Si, se puede!" as they rallied around several speakers to celebrate the "deferred action" that has the potential to affect close to 1 million undocumented youth between the ages of 16 and 30.
Joseline, who declined to give her last name because she's underage, attended the White House rally with fellow volunteers from Casa de Maryland. Although she isn't undocumented, she said she was there for those members of her family who are.
"It makes no sense–when we try to better ourselves and contribute to the community–[that] we are unequal in status," she said. "People might think we're just trying to get tuition breaks. But we're not trying to displace anyone – we just want to be treated equally, like any human being."
Bhargava thinks Obama's announcement will bring more supporters to the cause, a dire need for the next step in the process.
"We have to have a massive participation by immigrant communities in this upcoming election," he said. "And there's a hardcore group of people in the country that will never be convinced, but I believe a vast majority will look at the President and say, "'That makes sense.'
For Joseline, Thursday's announcement is just the beginning of an effort that will be rooted in local organizing and eventually branch out to the rest of the nation.
"This is just our first step," she said. "Our next step is to pass the Maryland DREAM Act, and then the national DREAM Act."