Things That Matter

House Democrats Pass The DREAM Act And Millions Of Lives Could Change Forever

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Undocumented immigrants. Children of undocumented immigrants. People in the US with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) fleeing violence or war in their countries. Everyone is celebrating the huge milestone made in the House of Representatives yesterday, as the chamber passed the DREAM Act.

The House of Representatives passed a bill that prevents immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children from being deported and gives them permanent residency along with a path to citizenship.

The bill passed the House by a vote of 237-187.

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With a handful of Republican votes, House Democrats passed the latest version of the DREAM Act, an ambitious expansion of a nearly two-decades-long legislative effort that would place millions of young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status on a pathway to U.S. citizenship.

The Democratic-led chamber approved the sweeping immigration bill, dubbed the DREAM and Promise Act of 2019, by a vote of 237 to 187.

Seven Republicans in the House joined 230 Democrats in voting for the bill. No Democrats voted against the measure.

Although it’s unlikely to be brought to a vote in the Senate, and Trump has already issued a veto threat, people couldn’t help but celebrate the achievement.

With the changes to this bill, entire communities would face new, more certain futures.

Credit: @UNITEDWEDREAM / Twitter

The proposal would grant young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, including those shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an opportunity to acquire permanent lawful status if they meet certain requirements. The bill would also allow hundreds of thousands of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients — as well as Liberian immigrants covered by Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) — to gain permanent residency.

Many Latino and Latina politicians took to Twitter to share their excitement and pride.

AOC herself reminded everyone that moments like these make all the drama, fighting, and campaigning worth it.

Rep. Ilhan Omar shared her own story and how much this bill means to her.

Credit: @IlhanMN / Twitter

Rep. Omar, who has been a vocal critic of the Trump administrations approach to immigration, said the fight wasn’t over yet.

The reactions on the Latino Twitter-sphere were everything.

Credit: @MamiChampangne / Twitter

Some woke up to the news and couldn’t believe what it could mean for their lives.

Many wanted to address their undocumented hermanos right away.

Credit: @zripena / Twitter

Even if this bill doesn’t become law, the community is a familia and will keep fighting until it does.

Many saw this as proof that their parents were right and that they hoped to do their parents proud.

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If this bill were to become law, tens of thousands of students would be eligible for tuition assistance and would be able to attend college. They’d be able to help work towards that better life their parents so badly want them to have.

Some were just flat out emotional over the breaking news.

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To be placed on a pathway to citizenship under the bill, these young immigrants must earn a college degree or complete two years of a degree program in an institution of higher education or technical school. They would also qualify if they served honorably in the military or have been employed in the U.S. for more than three years.

The proposal would also grant this group of young undocumented immigrant access to federal financial aid for college.

DED and TPS recipients, meanwhile, would be able to obtain permanent residency if they have resided in the U.S. for more than three years before the proposed legislation is enacted and if they do not have any felony convictions or more than one misdemeanor.

Despite the bill’s bleak prospects in the Senate, House Democrats believe the passage of one of their signature legislative issues will convey to the electorate that they continue using their majority to push through meaningful legislation.

“This is a day that glorifies what America is to the world. A place of refuge, a place of safety, a place of opportunity,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said at a press conference before the vote, citing a speech in which Republican President Ronald Reagan said the U.S. is a “better nation” because of immigrants.

“We will send it to the Senate and then we’ll keep on keeping on until it is the law of the land,” Hoyer added.

Heated Protesters At A Colorado ICE Facility Replace The American Flag With The Mexican Flag In A Show Of Defiance

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Heated Protesters At A Colorado ICE Facility Replace The American Flag With The Mexican Flag In A Show Of Defiance

The conflict at America’s southern border proves to be more and more horrific as containment continues. Now, with ICE raids having started over the weekend, more activists are getting in the mix to protest the existence of these facilities and their abusive treatment of migrants. On Friday, protesters camped outside of ICE detention centers around the nation, ready for rallies to denounce further internment of migrants from Central America and other foreign nations.

One of these protests is receiving national attention because of how demonstrators handled the facility’s United States flag.

Protesters at the Aurora, Colorado facility removed the American flag on display outside the building and replaced it with the flag of Mexico.

Twitter / @RealSaavedra

American flags are always flown outside of government buildings. A “Blue Lives Matter” flag was also removed and replaced. The flag was hoisted upside down on its pole with the words “Abolish ICE” spray painted upon it.

The DENVER POST reported that the demonstration was just one part of a nationwide event called Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps. The events were aimed at protesting the scheduled onslaught of ICE raids that are planned for the coming weeks. The event’s goal was also to expose the human rights violations being committed against the detained migrants.

The altered flags did not fly for long. Armed guards quickly removed the Mexican and defaced “Blue Lives Matter” flags and replaced them with another US flag and the Colorado state flag.

Still, the brief act of defiance caught Twitter’s attention and nobody was happy about it.

Twitter / @charliekirk11

Conservatives and Republicans were quick to see this as an act of treason. This Twitter user claimed that the Democratic goal for the next election year was to “Make America Mexico.” This isn’t the point that protesters were trying to make but it is one that was assumed by  Conservative Twitter. Many far-right Twitter accounts have since referred to this act as proof of an “invasion” as opposed to immigration.

This account relied on a racist mantra in response to the Mexican flag swap.

Twitter / @TrumpStudents

Often times when citizens criticize the United States, conservatives respond with the old adage “If you don’t like it here, leave.” That’s how this Trump Student Twitter handle responded. However, this is our country too and, instead of abandoning it, protesters and activists want to make it more inclusive and more harmonious. Besides, protesting against tyranny is just about as American a tradition can get.

Still, there were others disappointed by this swap. Central American and Latinx Twitter were quick to point out the hypocrisy.

Twitter / @_danalvarenga

Many pointed out that the Mexican government is just as responsible for the death, brutality, and confinement of Central American migrants as the United States is. Salvadoran journalist, Daniel Alvarenga, tweeted his disapproval of the Mexican flag swap by pointing out that this act is not the solidarity that activists should be showing towards migrant communities. The Mexican flag, he points out, is also a symbol of death to many Central American people.

This Twitter user glibly suggested that the presence of the Mexican flag meant that activists were acknowledging Mexico’s role in the deaths of thousands of Central Americans.

Twitter /@EarlsxLips

This fact is often dismissed but migrants traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the US are often treated despicably by Mexican officials. They are denied shelter, resources and are quickly hastened to the Mexican-American border. They are not given any sort or comfort or safety in Mexico. Central America migrants also face discrimination and hatred from Mexican nationals — making their trip even more difficult.

Another Twitter user observed that people from the Latinidad are often lumped together under one incorrect classification.

Twitter / @TheHoesherJew

This tweet points out that not all Latinx folk are Mexican. Flying the Mexican flag erases the fact that most people in these southern border facilities are not from Mexico. It perpetuates a bigoted assumption and is probably not the message activists wanted to send.

The takeaway? The suffering of our Central American familia needs to be acknowledged instead of capitalized upon for a photo op with a flag of their oppressors. The United States government isn’t the only one to harm these migrants and we should remember that going forward as we try to ally and advocate with the migrant community.

What You Need To Know About Elizabeth Warren And Her Newly Unveiled Immigration Plan

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What You Need To Know About Elizabeth Warren And Her Newly Unveiled Immigration Plan

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Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has just unveiled her plan for Immigration Reform. Many political pundits consider that unless there is a major escalation in the ongoing tensions with Iran, the 2020 United States presidential election will be defined by the issue of immigration, which has been the most controversial aspect of the Trump administration, and where the POTUS has focused his reelection campaign. Warren’s plan is bold and big and is based on the principles of human rights and dignity for migrants and refugees. 

The race for the Democratic nomination is a crowded field (perhaps too crowded if the Democrats wish to upstage Donald Trump), but Warren is one of the leading contenders if we are to take the constant attacks that Trump launches in her direction whenever he has a chance (particularly when mocking what he calls her doubtful claim to have Native-American heritage). According to the political website Real Clear Politics, Warren is tied with Bernie Sanders in second place, both around 11 points behind the leader of the pack, the former vice president Joe Biden. It is still too early to tell who will run against Trump, but Warren has charm, intelligence and above all the political savviness to give a good fight to Biden and Sanders, and ultimately Trump. 

This is Elizabeth Warren (in case you have been living under a rock for the past two years or so).

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She is an American politician and former academic. Since 2013 she has been the Senator from Massachusetts, an important state for the federal elections. She has brains, alright? She is a former law school professor and has lectured in universities across the country, specializing in bankruptcy law. However, don’t let her smarts make you think that she is not in touch with everyday voters: she has a long and successful history of working in community organizing, and she knows all about the trials and tribulations of the working class. 

Her grassroots approach to politics reminds some of the 2008 Obama campaign. Yes we can, again?

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Many commentators see similarities in the political careers and beliefs of Warren and Obama. They are both experienced in the Senate and former academics. The Independent even went as far as to say that Warren is the 2020 Obama, explaining: “Both Obama and Warren believe in ending political corruption, strengthening the American healthcare system and economy, restructuring the tax system to unburden the average citizen, eliminating bigotry, and ending the cycle of foreign wars. Obama’s potential constituents were most concerned about the economy, healthcare, education, energy, and Iraq. Today’s liberal voters feel similarly (substituting Syria for Iraq). And they both believe in raising their own campaign funds, though Warren rejects the PAC dollars that Obama didn’t.” 

Additionally, if Obama faced the aftermath of the Great Recession, Warren is facing a humanitarian crisis at the border that is bound to dictate the platform of whoever ends up being the Democratic Party’s candidate (there could be surprises, re: Kamala Harris!). 

If she ends up getting the Democratic nomination she won’t hold back calling out you-know-who.

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Trump and Warren have been adversarial for years now, and Warren has been one of the main proponents of impeachment proceedings against POTUS (she does know the law inside out, so…).  

She believes that immigration reform needs to be a priority for the next president.

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She describes the current policies as a mess. She wrote in a post on Medium: “We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands.” This is a very intelligent approach to immigration, as it appeals to both those worried about the economy and how the United States can respond to the competition of global markets, and to the voters who consider current zero-tolerance policies, including ICE raids, inadmissible. She vows to “Decriminalize migration and refocus enforcement on serious criminal activity”. 

Her plan for immigration reform is BIG, and would define policies for generations: she wants more opportunities for migrants to enter the country legally.

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Thinking of pure numbers, her plan would increase the intake of refugees from 30,000 a year to 125,000 and then to 175,000 in gradual increments. This policy would provide more opportunities for those who are fleeing precarious situations in war-torn countries and regions savaged by criminal networks and civil unrest, such as Central America, where a high percentage of the migrants who are captured or die in the border come from (you surely remember the devastating photograph of a Salvadorian father and his toddler daughter, who sadly drowned in the Rio Bravo). 

She proposes an approach that puts human values and individual dignity above anything else (so, in short, 100 percent opposite to the current administration’s): this translates into legal changes.

Credit: elizabethwarren / Instagram

The biggest legal change proposed by Warren is a restructure of the immigration court system that translates into independence from Justice Department bosses. This would mean that courts who decide the fate of hundreds of immigrants would be more autonomous and not necessarily bend to the pressures coming from the political machinations of the Washington political elite. This would also mean that local judges would have carta ancha to follow their ethical stance in individual cases (and in situations such as the separation of families at the border). 

Under a Warren presidency, the poor conditions of detention centers would be looked at and changed from day 1 and the Office of New Americans would be created.

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One of the main challenges for the country is the assimilation of new intakes into society. Some tend to be resentful and violent towards migrants, and migrants find it hard to get their footing into their new reality. This new office proposed by Warren would be in charge of facilitating integration, including teaching English.

She doesn’t believe in little efforts, but in big changes overhauling of previous policies.

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Under Warren, two of Trump’s most heatedly debated decisions would be given marcha atras. On ine hand, the travel ban (referred to by many as the “Muslim ban”) would end. The termination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act, which benefited thousands of Dreamers during the Obama years, would also be overhauled. 

She argues that the United States is enriched by immigrants, their stories and their efforts.

Credit: elizabethwarren / Instagram

A big part of Warren’s message is that immigrants are not space aliens, but actually part of the very fabric of the United States. Friends, neighbors and fellow Americans, even if the law or their migratory status might suggest otherwise.

Do you think she has a shot at “the big one”? 

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Few gave any chances to Barack Obama at this stage in 2008, or to Trump in 2016, so Elizabeth Warren is far from being out of the picture. She certainly looks presidential and has stood up to Trump when she has had to, so a Warren presidency is not un sueño guajiro.

READ: Senator Warren Speaks On The Removal Of DACA, Making Her Statement Personal With These Three Stories

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