Keeping the Dream Alive: From DACA to #AbolishICE

Another generation of Dreamers will step into the classroom this year with uncertainty of what opportunities await them upon graduation. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) opened doors for aspiring citizens to seek new employment, pursue educational opportunities, and set down roots by purchasing a home. While we knew the program provided a temporary and partial solution to the need for systemic reforms of our immigration system, it moved us forward in actualizing our vision of where we could be as a nation. It’s a vision defined by treating everyone with dignity, embracing the new ideas immigrants bring, and welcoming families who arrive seeking safety.

Today, we’re uplifting two 2021 Communications Institute Fellows whose work restores justice to a detention and deportation system devoid of humanity.

Keeping the Dream Alive in Oklahoma

On July 16, a federal judge halted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from approving new applications for DACA, while allowing for ongoing renewals for current DACA holders. In the wake of the decision, Dreamers across the country wanted to know what would happen next. To help fill this information void, Dream Action Oklahoma started hosting monthly, virtual DACA clinics and Instagram Live conversations with local immigration attorneys.

Under the leadership of Brenda Lozano, Dream Action Oklahoma plays a critical role to ensure justice for all immigrants, especially as the only youth and queer-led immigrant rights organization in the state. In collaboration with organizations across Oklahoma, they’ve sounded the alarm on anti-protest legislation aimed at restricting the freedom to protest peacefully. Dream Action Oklahoma is also leading the “Release Them Now!” campaign to monitor collaborations between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and demand an end to ICE detention. Follow their work on Facebook and Instagram.

Shutting Down Family Detention in Pennsylvania

When U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) tweeted in February that the last family had been released from ICE’s Berks County Residential Center, it was the culmination of years of organizing by attorneys, grassroots activists, and allies to shut down family detention in the state. It also may prove a short-lived victory. On August 19, the Berks County Commission approved a plan developed with ICE to flip the facility to detain immigrant women instead of families.

Adrianna Torres-García of Free Migration Project laid out the road forward quite clearly, telling Al Día News, “Freedom will not exist ‘until people who are fleeing from harm or just wanting to come to this country to build a life for themselves are able to do that without being caged.’” Free Migration Project has filed multiple lawsuits to challenge state licensing of the facility for detaining children and sue the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services for failing to implement adequate protection for children and families against COVID-19. Now they’re urging the Biden Administration to cancel all ICE contracts in Berks County. You can support their work by signing this letter and making calls to the targets outlined here.

With congressional budget negotiations underway, now is a critical time to amplify efforts to ensure everyone shares equal opportunity to feel safe and healthy in our communities. We stand with these and other advocates who are leading the way toward shutting down ICE detention facilities and winning a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status holders, essential workers, and their families.

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