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People Across The Nation Are Coming Together To #DefendDACA

@REpGutierrez / Twitter

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was first announced by the secretary of Homeland Security on June 15, 2012, marking a major victory for hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people in the U.S. For the first time, people were able to come out of the shadows to get work permits, attend college and contribute to the economy of the country they all call home. Five years later, DACA is at stake because of a lawsuit against the federal government led by Texas. DACA is an executive order that was signed by President Obama in August 2012, meaning President Trump has the authority and capability to rescind it. Here’s how DACA has gone from a new proposal to a program at risk, and how some politicians are trying to save it.

August 15 is the Day Of Action to #DefendDACA.

The Tom K. Wong, United We Dream, National Immigration Law Center, and Center for American Progress National Survey spoke with DACA beneficiaries, also called Dreamers, about their educational and employment opportunities since getting on the program. Results from the study show that 95 percent of people who are on DACA are either working or in school. Furthermore, the survey shows that DACA beneficiaries are contributing to the U.S. economy in several different industries, including the nonprofit sector, educational and health services and professional and business services.

DACA beneficiaries are using the program to go to school, get jobs, get better pay and contribute to the U.S. economy in positive ways.

“DACA has given me the ability to work. It has given me the ability to actually fulfill my dreams. It’s so basic,” Emmanuel Ramos Barajas, a mitú video producer, says. “It just allows you to work. Without being able to work, I can’t do any of the things that I want to do. I think a lot of people take that for granted, the right to work. Without that right to work, I can’t do any of things that I want to do that I’ve prepared my whole life to do even if I went to university and I graduated with my bachelor’s.”

Despite studies showing that the program is working to benefit the U.S. economy, 10 states are threatening to sue the federal government if the program isn’t rescinded by President Trump.

Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia all joined in a lawsuit aimed at eliminating the proposed program Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). When Trump became president, DAPA, which was introduced in 2014, was rescinded. At that time, Trump and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly promised that DACA would remain in place. The original lawsuit was solely focused on DAPA, but these states have threatened Trump with a lawsuit tailored to go after DACA if he doesn’t rescind the program.

If the case against DACA makes it to the courts, officials in immigration have already said it might not withstand a legal battle.

CREDIT: mitú

In July, Sec. Kelly met with members of Congress alert them that DACA would likely fail a court case questioning its constitutionality. Congressman Luis Gutierrez informed the press and activists that DACA is in real jeopardy.

Dreamers lead the fight for DACA. Now that it is at risk, some beneficiaries are calling people to join together to renew the fight to protect what they helped create.

“I feel like, at this time, the best thing to do is to stick together and protect our community,” Ramos Barajas says. “It’s a very scary time, honestly, because even though I don’t think about it every day, in the back of my head I know that I can wake up tomorrow to the news that DACA has been overturned and I won’t have a job. Everything that I have worked for my entire life will be on hold indefinitely until I figure out what to do. It wouldn’t be fair because this is my home. This is where I’ve made my life; where all of my friends and family live.”

Julio Salgado is an artist and a Dreamer. He uses his art as a form of activism to bring attention to the fight for DACA and the lives of undocumented youth, particularly queer youth.

“I think taking DACA away is a way to show that this administration is not joking when they promised anti-immigrant policies,” artist Julio Salgado says.

“DACA is one of the few things that undocumented organizers won aside from all the deportations they stopped,” Salgado says. “If DACA goes away, it sure will be an inconvenience. But I’m a hustler. I am an immigrant. I have survival skills. Don’t let those sci-fi movies fool you into thinking that only white people survive horrific life circumstances.”

In response to the threat, four senators introduced a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The Dream Act, introduced by Republicans Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake and Democrats Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin, would allow for undocumented immigrants and DACA beneficiaries to become citizens. It would be a long process but the bill, which has garnered bipartisan support, effectively creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

It wouldn’t be an immediate jump to citizenship because there are certain criteria people would have to meet.

CREDIT: mitú

According to the National Immigration Law Center, this is the proposed process:

  • Current DACA beneficiaries would be granted a conditional permanent residency. People who are on Temporary Protected Status and people with final orders of removal would have a chance to apply for the same status.
  • After eight years as a conditional permanent resident, people can apply to become lawful permanent residents if they go to college, have worked for a certain amount of time or served in the U.S. military.
  • After five years as a lawful permanent resident, people would then be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Ramos Barajas believes The Dream Act is a good step forward if it gets passed.

“I don’t think it’s a solution across the board because the immigration system is completely broken so that needs a complete overhaul but this, let’s call it a Band-Aid, would be so helpful because it would allow millions of young people to enter into the workforce,” Ramos Barajas says. “It’s not just people doing every day stuff, it would also be people motivated to work in law and in medicine. These things are all beneficial because if you have lawyers and politician who understand the issues because they have lived through them, for them it’s going to be much more personal and they are going to go out and try to make these things happen.”

“We cannot allow the lives of these young Americans to be threatened, and the chants of white supremacists to thrive,” Julissa Arce, an immigration activist, wrote in an op-ed for mitú.

“DACA has changed the lives of many of these young people; in the same way Texas changed my life in 2001,” Arce wrote.


READ: DACA Has Made It Possible For 800k Young People To Work Legally In America. Today People Fight To Protect It.

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Through Music, Nacho And Spotify Hope To Spread The Word Of Venezuela's Crisis

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Through Music, Nacho And Spotify Hope To Spread The Word Of Venezuela’s Crisis

Nacho / Facebook / @nacho / Instagram

Spotify has brought together Latino activists and advocates to share the stories of their struggles and activism through a series of playlists called Soundtrack de Mi Vida. This week Nacho, of Chino & Nacho, posted his playlist to tell the story of the crisis that is crippling his home country Venezuela. Nacho has been vocal about the heated political climate in Venezuela as well as the Maduro government, even speaking to the National Assembly during Youth Day in 2016. Nacho spoke with mitú about the importance of Spotify in bringing awareness to the crisis that hits very close to home.

Nacho has been using his music, fame and voice to bring attention to the humanitarian crisis that has rocked Venezuela. Now he has the support of Spotify to spread that message.

“Spotify has changed the world,” Nacho says. “Everyone is connected differently with music at this time because it is closer and more personal. To have this ability and this influence that Spotify has and to use it for a beautiful cause, which is the support of the liberty of an entire country, is something I think it is a very noble, valiant move and a valuable contribution.”

He includes his song  “Valiente” in his playlist, which he wrote specifically for the youths in Venezuela.

Nacho believes music is the best way to communicate a message. However, artists also have to make sure the messages they send are what young people want to hear.

“You won’t succeed if you aren’t sending out the message that they want to hear,” he says.

While Nacho wants people to enjoy the music in his playlist, he also wants them to pay attention to what is happening in Venezuela.

“The people need to know, firstly, that there is no freedom in Venezuela,” Nacho says.

“It needs to be clear to everybody that there is no democracy in Venezuela,” he adds. “If we are all clear on that then there is hope. If people have a doubt about whether or not there is freedom in Venezuela, then that’s where we are failing because the freedom in Venezuela has been assassinated.”

Especially since an any act of  resistance, even through music, is squashed in Venezuela by law.

View this post on Instagram

FANTÁSTICO.

A post shared by Nacho "Miguelito" Mendoza (@nacho) on

According to Nacho, artists are trapped in a country where protests songs that question or stand up to the government are not allowed on the radio. That silencing has caused an influx of artists releasing protest music, however, which has saturated the market, making it hard for artists to have their music played in regular rotation or “reach the next level,” as Nacho puts it.

Nacho has made trips to Venezuela in support of a democratic country, but times have gotten harder and his ability to enter his home country has been restricted.

“Every time I arrive in Venezuela, it’s a big risk that I am taking because I want to return to my country,” Nacho says about traveling home. “At this point, it has been a while since I have been there because I have a letter that says that the next time I go, the first thing they are going to do is be against my travel documents. If they take my documentation in Venezuela and they don’t deliver them then they’re basically making me pay a price to enter the country. I will lose my life; what I worked for. I wouldn’t be able to see my kids again. It’s a very complicated situation.”

“Family for me isn’t just my wife and kids,” Nacho says about how travel restrictions to Venezuela have impacted his family.

“I have a lot of family that is still in Venezuela and are confronting directly this shortage crisis – of the food shortage, of the medicine shortage,” Nacho says. “They don’t have the ability to obtain health insurance in the hospitals or clinics. They have to be in long lines in order to find just one basic-needs product. They can’t leave the house because on the streets there is the feeling of a civil war that is always increasing as the crisis in Venezuela increases.”

Nacho wants people to know that there are several ways to help Venezuelans, even something as simple as sharing videos and news coming out of the country.

For people wanting to help, Nacho recommends communicating the crisis to other people. It might seem small but Nacho says that the Venezuelan government has put a gag on all media that disagrees or publishes content that goes against the government and President Nicolás Maduro. Meanwhile, publications willing to only speak positively about the current regime are given more journalistic freedom.

You can also send supplies if you can find someone to receive them.

“Sending supplies to Venezuela is also difficult and it depends on customs. As everyone is in need, the supplies don’t arrive in full. Sometimes they arrives with less than half,” Nacho says. “The National Guard takes a large part of the supplies. The politicians get part of everything that is sent, from medicine to milk. Everything up to sanitary paper. But it is a way to help. You can collect necessary supplies and send them to Venezuela.”

According to Nacho, the music in Venezuela has suffered because the crisis forces young musicians to flee to other countries.

As the country gets more and more restrictive, musicians wanting to advance their career are leaving their homeland behind to to pursue their dreams. To Nacho, it makes sense that they would want to escape the crisis and constant fighting.

The underlying hope of talent leaving Venezuela is that they will someday be able to shed light on what is happening in the country.

“They have the fight to keep growing professionally,” Nacho says. “That way their voice has a little more weight. You have to focus on your career and you have to try to succeed so the people follow you in your art, in what you do and in your music and give you their attention. After that, you can start to share the message that you want to share. That takes a lot of time. I have seen that there has been a mass exodus of great professional musicians that have moved to different parts of the world and are starting that process. There is going to be a bit of time before we have a solid base of influential Venezuelans in music internationally to get a shared message out.”

You can listen to Nacho’s Spotify playlist for Soundtrack de Mi Vida below.


READ: Two Venezuelan Opposition Leaders Were Arrested In The Middle Of The Night And No One Knows Where They Are

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