By Greg Hernandez
The Los Angeles LGBT Center joined immigration rights allies and other LGBT groups to rally in support of an updated DREAM Act as it was being introduced across the country on March 12.
The Dream and Promise Act of 2019, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Democratic Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, sets a path for permanent legal status for people who once had conditional status in the U.S. but who now face deportation.
It extends protections for recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Enforced Departure (DED), and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Trump administration called for an end to the programs in 2017.
“Starting today we have another chance at passing a permanent solution for (millions of) undocumented folks,” Melody Klingenfuss of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) said on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.
Klingenfuss, joined by nearly 100 other demonstrators at the rally, became a DACA recipient in 2015 and has lived in the U.S. since she was nine.
This is “a country that says give me your labor, give me your taxes, give me your intelligence, give me your best,” she said. “But it also can’t be the country that wants to take away your chance of trying to seek a safe life.”
The major reform legislation would benefit roughly 3.6 million undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are known as “DREAMers.” Of those, 800,000 have been shielded from deportation by DACA.
An estimated 75,000 dreamers are LGBT and about 40,000 have been beneficiaries of the DACA program, according to The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
“This is a bill that the Democrats campaigned on to win the House during the 2018 midterm elections and they are delivering,” said the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Policy and Operations Manager Maria Melo, who was among the rally’s participants.
Other LGBT groups at the rally were the Latino Equality Alliance and Equality California.
“Now it’s on us to bring the community together to mobilize folks to fight to get this passed,” Melo added. “This is the unique opportunity to make sure all these young LGBT folks don’t lose everything that they fought for—their dreams, their education, their family and their community. It’s the right thing to do.”Melo pointed out that if the bill were to become law, it would provide safety to thousands of young LGBT folks in the U.S. who are now facing the possibility of deportation.
Deportation is comparable to a death sentence for LGBTQ people in many parts of the world. Same-sex relationships are criminalized in nearly 80 countries worldwide.
Speakers urged people to contact their local members of Congress to encourage them to vote in favor the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 or H.R. 6. To find your representative, visit bit.ly/LGBTreps.