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As Government Shutdown Nears, Congressman Joaquin Castro, DACA Recipients and Latino Leaders Demand #DREAMACTNOW

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dozens of Dreamers from 10 states, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-TX, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, the Hispanic Federation, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and UnidosUS, stood in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol on Friday and shamed congressional leaders for blocking a vote on the Dream Act and leading the nation to a government shutdown.

During a news conference Friday, the Dreamers and advocates said passage of the DREAM Act is supported by more than 4-in-5 Americans, but the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House have refused to call a vote on the bill that would provide emergency relief to almost 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients who permits are expiring at a rate of 122 per day. Instead of taking up the bipartisan DREAM Act, the leadership added a token Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provision as a bargaining chip to the bill to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.

The 150 Dreamers who are visiting all House and Senate offices through Friday, sponsored by LULAC and the Hispanic Federation, said they were frustrated that some offices refused to open their doors to them and see them as people instead of political pawns.

“There is times when my heart feels really heavy and I’m not really sure where I should go next,” said Dreamer Joseph Trujillo, of Dallas, TX, who serves as President of Texas A&M LULAC chapter. But he hoped members of Congress heard their message, he said. “No, we are not just a bargaining chip. No we are not just a statistic or a number. Every single one of us standing here today and all the pictures that you see is a different story, a different place, a different time, a lot of adversity and hardship that we have overcome in order to be here today. And you know what? We have travelled hundreds and hundreds of miles and I am not afraid to do this again because I will not stop until the very last day, until we get this DREAM Act passed. Because every single one of us deserves that opportunity,” Trujillo said.

Congressman Joaquin Castro applauded his fellow Democrats for vowing to stand strong with the Dreamers. “What does it take for Congress to act when 83% of the American people -- that’s a significant number of both Republicans and Democrats - want Congress to take action on this issue and yet Congress fails to do so. This is not a matter of convincing the American people what the right thing to do is. The American people know what the right thing to do is. It’s a matter of getting Congress to act,” Castro said.

The Latino community leaders issued sharp criticism at the party that controls the White House and both chambers of Congress.

“We are on the brink of a government shutdown because the president and his party, which control Congress, have refused to negotiate in good faith and include in the spending bill legislative relief for Dreamers and Temporary Protective Status immigrants, whose lives hang in the balance of congressional inaction,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. “We are here, united, as 45 national Latino organizations, calling for a solution that will bring the Dreamers fully into American life and give them the right to work, support their families and contributing so much to our nation,” he added.

"Republican leadership is actually trying to block members of its own party who have worked to produce the bipartisan deal the president asked for and said he would sign, an which would help avoid a shutdown. We have heard a lot of lies. It’s time to come clean,” said Clarissa Martínez de Castro, Deputy Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, UnidosUS. “There is no need for a government shutdown. But if one occurs, responsibility will rest solidly at the door of Republican leadership and the president. For the sake of the country, let’s hope it does not come to that."

José Calderón, President of the Hispanic Federation, noted that the president and his Republican Party have repeatedly failed the Latino and immigrant communities, and the failure to move on the DREAM Act is an issue of great moral clarity that Americans outside Congress understand. “Trump and his congressional followers have badly miscalculated our resolve to protect our children. They have badly miscalculated what the American people want,” Calderon said. “We are never going to allow our children to be put in harm’s way — allow our children to lose their jobs, to be removed from their families and their loved ones. That is never going to happen. We are committed to working with Congressional allies, businesses, advocates and people of good conscience all across America to help Trump and Trump Republicans come to their senses and stop this war on our children,” Calderon added.

Abigail Zapote, National Vice President for Young Adults, League of United Latin American Citizens who accompanied the Dreamers to congressional offices this week, agreed they will continue confronting members of Congress until they are heard.

“Even if our students are getting ignored, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to come back. We’re going to come back with an even bigger force because we know that they have to listen to us. We are the taxpayers, even though we are undocumented. We are still paying the salaries and the salaries of all of the staff members, so this just gives us a lot more motivation to come back and make sure that we are going to win,” Zapote said.

To view the news conference, please go to:
Part 1: https://twitter.com/thetwinspr/status/954368852166549505
Part 2: https://twitter.com/thetwinspr/status/954373012207190016

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FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Gebe Martinez | gebe.gmnetworking@gmail.com | (703) 731-9505 | Michael Torra | mtorra@rabengroup.com | (202) 425-0582 | Brenda Arredondo | barredondo@rabengroup.com | (915) 373-1483 |

ABOUT THE NATIONAL HISPANIC LEADERSHIP AGENDA: The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is composed of 45 of the leading national and regional Latino civil rights and public policy organizations and other elected officials, and prominent Latinos Americans. NHLA coalition members represent the diversity of the Latino community – Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and other Latino Americans. NHLA’s mission calls for unity among Latinos around the country to provide the Latino community with greater visibility and a clearer, stronger influence in our country’s affairs. NHLA brings together Latino leaders to establish policy priorities that address, and raise public awareness of, the major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation as a whole. For more information, please visit: www.nationalhispanicleadership.org.

NHLA MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS: Alianza Americas | American G.I. Forum | ASPIRA Association | Avance Inc. | Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network | Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute | Farmworker Justice | GreenLatinos | Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities | Hispanic Federation | Hispanic National Bar Association | Inter-University Program for Latino Research | Labor Council for Latin American Advancement | Latino Justice PRLDEF | League of United Latin American Citizens | MANA, A National Latina Organization | Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund | Mi Familia Vota | National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures | National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives | National Association of Hispanic Publications | National Day Laborer Organizing Network | NALEO Educational Fund | National Association of Latino Independent Producers | National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc. | National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators | National Hispanic Council on Aging | National Hispanic Environmental Council | National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts | National Hispanic Media Coalition | National Hispanic Medical Association | National Institute for Latino Policy | National Latina/o Psychological Association | National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health | Presente.org | SER Jobs for Progress National | Southwest Voter Registration Education Project | UnidosUS | United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce | United States Hispanic Leadership Institute | United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce | U.S.- Mexico Foundation | Voto Latino

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