A group of DACA recipients and their supporters marched down to the existing border wall on Wednesday to demand lawmakers stop playing with their future and pass a permanent legal status solution for undocumented youth that doesn’t include funding for a new border wall.
The group of about 50 people gathered at the entrance of Border Field State Park and walked down to the southern edge of the park, which is flanked by Tijuana’s Playas neighborhood on the other side.
There, with the border wall as a backdrop and in front of Customs and Border Patrol agents, speakers shared stories, chanted, and called for congress to stop using “Dreamers” as a bargaining chip.
The event was a response to a controversial immigration framework announced by the Trump administration late last month, which would provide a 12-year period for current DACA beneficiaries to attain their citizenship. However, this opportunity for citizenship would not be extended to their families and the overall package would come tied to a $25-billion provision for what is described as a “border wall system” and expand hiring of officers for border and immigration control agencies.
The proposed framework came about after weeks of debate in Congress in regards to a spending bill and the inclusion of permanent legal status solution for DACA recipients and funding for a border wall in said bill, which did not move in either direction which lead to a government shutdown.
Ali Torabi, a DACA recipient born in Iran and member of the group San Diego Border Dreamers, said that he is tired of politicians using his future and the lives of his family members as a tool for lawmakers.
“To make a degrading offer where we get pseudo citizenship by forcing us to pick between our families’ safety and our future is crude and is something that I, as a border dreamer, will not stand for,” Torabi stated.
“Look at us for what we are, human beings with lives and feelings,” Torabi added. “Using language like ‘chain migration’ and using false equivalency to compare us to MS13 hurts us and is degrading.”
The location of the event, according to DACA recipient Fernanda Madrigal, was meant to highlight that there is already a border wall in place and that asking for a new wall to be built is inhumane and redundant.
“Demanding a border wall is part of fear mongering which the presidential administration has tried to implement by saying that the United States is vulnerable to attacks on the southern border, but, like we can see, there is already a wall and many Border Patrol agents are here,” Madrigal said. “We also wanted to say that we don’t agree with our communities being pushed further into the shadows if the border region gets further militarized.”
The timing of the rally at the border was significant, as a second government shutdown was looming after a spending bill cleared the House of Representatives but was not expected to have the Senate support needed to be approved on Thursday. This bill did not include a solution to the DACA issue at hand.
DACA activists and supporters have been calling on their Democratic representatives in Congress to vote no on any budget that did not include a clean Dream Act, which would provide DACA recipients a path to citizenship.
“Undocumented youth will continue, now more than ever, demanding that Democrats hold the line, grow courage and say ‘no dream, no deal,'” said Madrigal. “Every day the Dream Act does not pass, over 122 people lose their status. Undocumented youth are at risk of detention and deportation even despite having DACA.”