DREAMers push Democrats for DACA fix

DREAMers and allies protested in front of the Arizona Democratic headquarters in the fight for a clean Dream Act

On Jan. 16, DACA recipients and demonstrators protested in front of the Arizona Democratic Party headquarters in downtown Phoenix, chanting "No dream, no deal."

During the protest, which was partially organized by the ASU student group Undocumented Students for Education Equity, participants took turns at a microphone, sharing their stories. Passersby raised their fists in solidarity and honked their horns.

The protesters were calling for a legislative solution for DACA recipients to be included in the upcoming federal spending bill that Congress is negotiating. The federal government will run out of money on Jan. 19 at midnight if Congress doesn't pass the bill, and activists are pressuring Democratic lawmakers to reject any bill that does not include a clean Dream Act

DACA advocates began applying pressure to their usual Democratic allies when Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) voted for a continuing budget resolution in December that did not include protections for DACA recipients. 

With the deadline looming, it is not clear whether or not the spending bill will include a version of the DREAM Act. On Sunday, President Donald Trump tweeted that DACA "is probably dead" after a meeting with lawmakers at the White House ended in controversy, setting negotiations back.


ASU DACA recipient and applied biological sciences senior Ruby Rivera said the uncertainty feels like "a rollercoaster emotionally."

"I'm just tired of seeing politicians promise something and say that they're gonna do something and then they don't," Rivera said. "I don't even know what's happening anymore." Rivera's fiance, a DACA recipient who recently graduated from Glendale Community College, said he feels the same way.

"One minute, they're close to an agreement, the next there's some sort of problem," Castillo said. "I'm trying to remain optimistic, but at the same time, I am a human being, so it's frustrating."

 During the action on Tuesday, protesters erected a "Wall of Shame" featuring every Democrat who voted for the continuing resolution even though it didn't include the DREAM Act. Sinema and O'Halleran were prominently featured. When their pictures were added to the Wall of Shame, protesters chanted the word "shame" over and over.

Sinema, who announced her candidacy for Jeff Flake's Senate seat in October, may face backlash from progressives in her next race if she chooses to support a spending bill that does not include a DREAM Act. Both Rivera and Castillo said they would have a hard time supporting her Senate run if she did not push for a solution for DACA students.

Alex Baker, a business and data analytics junior and the vice president of the ASU Young Democrats, said he would reluctantly continue to support Sinema.

"I would vote for Sinema begrudgingly because I consider her, despite some defection from Democratic norms, better than anyone from the Republican party," Baker said. "But, I wouldn't be ecstatic about it."

ASU political science professor Dave Wells said he expects Sinema, who has voted with the president's agenda more than most Democrats, to vote for a spending bill regardless of whether the DREAM Act is included.

"Sinema isn't someone who's stood up for principle," Wells said. "She stands for pragmatism and what would best push her forward in terms of her goals like getting elected to the Senate."

Wells said he does think Sinema will vote for the DREAM Act if it comes to a vote, but "she probably won't insist on it at this time."


Reach the reporter at flatifi@asu.edu or follow @fortesalatifi on Twitter.

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