Things That Matter

Rep. Gutiérrez Arrested At White House Rally On DACA Anniversary

Five years ago, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Yesterday, on its anniversary, thousands of people celebrated the security the program has given them. Others protested because there is fear that President Trump may shut it down.

Thousands of DACA supporters attended a rally Lafayette Park, in Washington D.C., which turned into a march to the White House.

People from all backgrounds traveled to D.C. to #DefendDaca, including a large group of Connecticut teens.

Gabriela Valdiglesias talked to NBC about how the DACA has helped her family. She has three siblings whom all have been able to attend college because of it.

“With that, they were able to get jobs, and since they’re all out from college, they can help support my dad for paying for their higher education,” Valdiglesias told NBC.

Since the program began on Aug. 15, 2012, an estimated “800,000 people have been granted DACA, a temporary benefit that must be renewed every two years.”

President Trump has gone back-and-forth about what he intends to do with the hundreds of thousands of people that are part of this program. The latest reports show that Trump may put an end to DACA.

Foreign Policy reports that the president was basically given an ultimatum by 10 attorneys general (all from Republican states) saying that if he doesn’t phase out DACA by Sept. 5, they will sue the administration.

That’s why yesterday’s DACA turned into a march to the White House.

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, a longtime advocate of DACA, was one of those that led the march, demanding the protection of the program.

The Democrat representing the state of Illinois, along with Ben Jealous (former President of the NAACP and currently a candidate for the governor of Maryland) and other demonstrators, sat on the sidewalk in front of the White House.

Police officers asked the demonstrators to leave. When they didn’t abide, Gutierrez and other protesters were arrested.

This is not the first time Gutiérrez was arrested. In 2010 and 2011, Gutiérrez was arrested outside the White House before DACA was passed. At the time, Gutiérrez urged Obama to protect immigrant youth from deportation.

Gutiérrez was also arrested in Chicago at an ICE office this past March when he protested the deportation of DREAMers.

Upon his release yesterday, Gutiérrez released the following statement.

“While the President is coddling racist white supremacists because he is afraid to lose their votes, we took a stand today for justice. There is no doubt the American people stand with the young people who face deportation if Republicans kill DACA or fail to defend it in court.”

He went on to say:

“I am a citizen and know when I leave my house in the morning that I will return that night, but millions of immigrants leave for work or school each day unsure whether they will be arrested and detained. I gave up a few hours of my freedom to stand up for them…It is a shame and an embarrassment – es una vergüenza – the way this White House has turned on immigrants and fomented animosity towards immigrant families.”

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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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Is Getting Ready To Challenge Trump In The Supreme Court

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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra Is Getting Ready To Challenge Trump In The Supreme Court

Molly Adams / Flickr / agbecerra / Instagram

As the Supreme Court is set to take on the task of deciding the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) this fall, attorneys general from across the country sent in a filing brief in favor of the program. The 2012 Obama-era policy provided temporary legal status for participants and protected them from deportation. More importantly, it included the ability to work in the U.S. It also became a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall back in February and his plans to take on illegal immigration. 

The Supreme Court decided to take on the case in June and will then hear oral arguments on the case in November with an expected ruling in the 2020 election year, putting the highest court in the land at the center of this divisive issue. For California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, this issue hits close to home. 

Of the roughly 700,000 DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, almost 200,000 of them live in California.

Credit: @XavierBeccerra / Twitter

In a brief filed last Friday to the Supreme Court, Becerra and other fellow attorneys generals from Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota argued that the Trump administration unlawfully terminated the program back in September 2017. Becerra has been at the forefront of the fight defending DACA. In his state of California, there are roughly 200,000 recipients and many of them go to school and work there. 

“The Trump Administration continues to hide behind the flimsy excuse that their hands were tied and they had to end DACA,” said Attorney General Becerra said last week. “The truth is there is no basis for that conclusion. Dreamers who have called America home for decades contribute significantly to our communities as teachers, first responders, entrepreneurs, and so much more. Many of them know no other home than the United States.”

Back in September 2017, the Trump administration initially said it was going to end the program, making the claim it was an illegal use of executive power by then-President Obama. That resulted in various lawsuits and injunctions filed by three U.S. district courts, including one in California. This would allow those who were previously granted DACA the power to renew their applications. 

When it was announced that oral arguments would be heard in front of the Supreme Court, Becerra was one of the most vocal political figures defending the program. He said then that he would do everything in his power to fight the Trump administration. 

“DACA reflects our nation’s commitment to helping hardworking people and creates hope and opportunity for a new generation – many of whom were brought to our country as toddlers. So far, both lower courts in our legal fight to protect DACA have agreed with us that the Trump Administration’s attempt to end it was unlawful,” Attorney General Becerra said back in June. “In California and across our nation, Dreamers enrich our communities as scholars, entrepreneurs, first responders, and much more. We look forward to making our case before the Supreme Court.”

The brief emphasizes the economic contributions that DACA recipients have on the U.S. and the consequences of terminating the program would have on the job market.

Credit: Unsplash

“Getting rid of DACA will reduce economic growth and cost our federal, state, and local governments about $95 billion in foregone tax revenues, without any appreciable employment gains for U.S. citizens,” Ike Branon wrote in an op-ed for Forbes last month. 

Dreamers contribute almost $9 billion in federal, state and local taxes every single tear. The result of removing the program would cause businesses to lose billions of dollars in turnover costs if their DACA-recipient employees are no longer able to legally live and work in the U.S. The statistics also show creating a pathway for legal citizenship is beneficial for all and will only cause more harm than good is rescinded. 

President Trump has repeatedly used DACA as a way to try to get lawmakers to pass comprehensive immigration reform. So far, there has been no progress on that front as both Democrats and Republicans have not been able to come pass any legislation. 

As we wait for the Supreme Court to hear the case on DACA, thousands of people wait as their futures and livelihood in the U.S. hang in the balance. It will take more people like Becerra to stand up and voice their opinion on the program if it stands any chance of surviving. 

READ: City Officials Tell Judge Deceased Undocumented Immigrant Has No Rights Under The Constitution After Police Accidentally Killed Him

This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

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This Is How Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Plans To Tackle Poverty In The US

Since making her way to Capitol Hill at the start of the year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most progressive voices in Congress — and her recently-unveiled policy package to tackle US poverty assures that her vision for the country hasn’t gotten any less bold.

“I am both energized and humbled to introduce legislation today to build upon the most transformative programs of the last century,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement.

The first-year lawmaker’s legislative package is called “A Just Society,” and it includes six individual bills.

ocasio2018 / Instagram

First, the Puerto Rican congresswoman aims to update the way the US government currently calculates poverty and determines eligibility for welfare. At the moment, a single person is considered “poor” in the US if they make less than $12,500 a year. If someone makes more than that, then they are unable to benefit from programs like Medicaid, even though they could still be struggling gravely economically.  Through the proposal, called the Recognizing Poverty Act, Ocasio-Cortez would prompt the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Bureau of the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to modify the equation so that it takes more details into account, including a person’s geographic cost of living, what portion of their income they spend on health insurance or child care, and spending toward utilities. This act would undoubtedly result in a rise in the number of people who live at or below the federal poverty level and would widen people’s eligibility to welfare programs, like Medicaid, food stamps and family planning services.

According to the U.S. Census, about 40 million Americans live in poverty, a harrowing reality that the congresswoman doesn’t think many people in the country know or understand. “If we can acknowledge how many Americans are actually in poverty I think that we can start to address some of the more systemic issues in our economy,” she told NPR.

Her policy bundle includes proposals that could help the country’s most marginalized communities, including immigrants and people who were formerly incarcerated. For instance, her Mercy in Re-entry Act proposes that individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense would be ensured access to all federal public benefits. Presently, many states ban people with felony drug convictions from receiving welfare and food stamps.

Even more, formerly incarcerated individuals often struggle to obtain government-issued IDs. 

ocasio2018 / Instagram

Additionally, her so-called Embrace Act would guarantee federal public benefits access to anyone, regardless of their immigration status. Currently, undocumented immigrants, including DACA holders, are not eligible to receive most federal public benefits, including benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), regular Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). They’re also ineligible for health care subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and are prohibited from purchasing unsubsidized health coverage on ACA exchanges. Still, these individuals might be able to take advantage of some benefits that are deemed “necessary to protect life or guarantee safety in dire situations,” such as emergency Medicaid, access to treatment in hospital emergency rooms, or access to healthcare and nutrition programs under the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). However, rumors that the Trump administration is considering blocking immigrants using public benefits from getting their green cards is currently halting the most vulnerable in these communities from using those life-saving benefits.

“From the New Deal to the Great Society, we have shown time and again that our nation is capable of implementing big ideas and bold solutions that match the scale of the challenges we face,” Ocasio-Cortez, 29, said in her statement. “We must once again recognize the breadth and consequences of poverty in this country and work together to ensure a path forward to economic freedom for everyone.”

Her wide-ranging proposal also considers tenants and workers.

ocasio2018 / Instagram

The Place to Prosper Act would tackle the housing crisis by introducing a 3 percent national cap on annual rent increases, among other provisions. Meanwhile, the Uplift Our Workers Act would prompt the Department of Labor and the Office of Management and Budget to create a “worker-friendly score” for federal contractors.

Finally, the congressional freshman also proposed a resolution dubbed A Just Society Guarantees the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for All that would request the Senate to ratify the U.N. Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

While critics have called Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal a “radical, extreme-left agenda,” the congresswoman believes it could effectively tackle the US’ poverty crisis and help the people of one of the wealthiest nations in the world to live a life beyond destitution. 

“In a modern, moral, and wealthy society, no person should be too poor to live,” Ocasio-Cortez says in a video introducing her legislation. “That’s what a just society means to me.” 

Ocasio-Cortez’s legislative package is her latest ambitious proposal. Back in February, when the congressional newbie was just one month on the job, she introduced the much-talked-about Green New Deal, a series of proposals backed by leading Democrats to tackle climate change.

Read: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Made A Student Loan Payment During Meeting To Prove A Point About Corruption