Chants for freedom reverberated through the streets of downtown Syracuse Thursday as dozens of activists gathered to urge Congressmember John Katko to co-sponsor what they call a "Clean Dream Act." It’s part of a coordinated nationwide Dream Act Week of Action while Congress is in recess. Gustavo Andrade is director of leadership development with United We Dream.
"By clean we mean a bill that doesn't include harmful and overzealous enforcement such as added border patrol agents or the ridiculous border wall. How is this America in 2017? We're here because we can do better, and we're here to say 'not on my watch'."
Andrade says they also brought 500 petition signatures to deliver to Katko’s office. He says there are an estimated 47,000 DACA recipients in New York alone who contribute about $140 million in state and local taxes. Andrade says they're optimistic Katko will support the Clean Dream Act.
"It would legalize the status of over a million young dreamers who've come to this country whose families depend on them for support and who are American in every way except on paper. It is absolutely unconscionable after President Trump decided to cancel the DACA program that Congress has not stepped up."
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is looking for Congress to support rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program. For his part, Katko has said DACA circumvented Congress and faces significant legal challenges. As a former prosecutor, he feels the nation’s immigration laws need to be enforced while undocumented immigrants leading productive lives should be able to earn a status that allows them to remain in the U.S.