DACA back­ers turn up heat

With fu­ture in jeop­ardy, wide range of sup­port­ers join fight

The Dallas Morning News - - Nation & World - Miriam Jor­dan, The New York Times

HOUS­TON — Be­fore Thanks­giv­ing, Busy Philipps, an ac­tress with a large fol­low­ing among mil­len­nial moms, urged her fans to bring up a “re­ally im­por­tant topic” at the hol­i­day din­ner ta­ble.

“Dream­ers,” she said as she plopped food on her plate, in a video viewed 1.7 mil­lion times on Face­book. “Re­mem­ber to call your mem­ber of Congress and tell them to pass that DREAM Act, and en­cour­age your fam­ily mem­bers to do the same.”

IBM is parad­ing young im­mi­grant em­ploy­ees through the halls of Congress. Tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials are run­ning in key dis­tricts. On Tues­day, evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians sup­port­ing the im­mi­grants were ar­rested af­ter demon­strat­ing out­side the of­fice of House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-wis.

Years of protests and lob­by­ing by im­mi­grants per­suaded Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in 2012 to cre­ate De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals, or DACA, the pro­gram that has let 800,000 young im­mi­grants in the coun­try il­le­gally, who are known as Dream­ers, legally stay and work in the United States.

With their fu­ture now in jeop­ardy, a wide range of well-or­ga­nized, well-fi­nanced sup­port­ers are lin­ing up be­hind the young im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing celebri­ties, phi­lan­thropists, reli­gious groups and pil­lars of cor­po­rate Amer­ica.

“Hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple’s lives are on the line,” said Lau­rene Pow­ell Jobs, whose or­ga­ni­za­tion, Emer­son Col­lec­tive, paid for some of the tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials and ar­ranged the celebrity in­volve­ment. “That re­quires us to find new ways to en­gage audiences that don’t un­der­stand the threat these young peo­ple are fac­ing.”

In Septem­ber, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing that Obama had abused his author­ity and cir­cum­vented Congress to cre­ate DACA, an­nounced it would be­gin phas­ing out the pro­gram in March. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump also urged Congress to find a leg­isla­tive rem­edy to re­place it.

Those who sup­port re­lief for the im­mi­grants have turned up the pres­sure this month as Congress tries to avert a gov­ern­ment shut­down with a spend­ing bill. On Wed­nes­day, more than 4,000 DACA re­cip­i­ents and sup­port­ers ral­lied in Wash­ing­ton and in cities around the coun­try, stag­ing sit-ins at con­gres­sional of­fices and block­ing the en­trance to the Capi­tol, where around 200 peo­ple were ar­rested. Or­ga­niz­ers vowed to es­ca­late the protests Thurs­day.

Repub­li­cans con­trol Congress but can­not keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning with­out Democrats, and sev­eral Democrats have said they will not vote for a spend­ing bill un­less it also re­solves the plight of the im­mi­grants. On Thurs­day, the Sen­ate and House mi­nor­ity lead­ers, Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Nancy Pelosi, D-calif., met with Trump and Repub­li­can lead­ers to dis­cuss var­i­ous is­sues, in­clud­ing the spend­ing bill and im­mi­gra­tion.

The mul­ti­pronged cam­paign to help the young im­mi­grants un­der­scores how much the coun­try has come to iden­tify with them and how ex­ten­sively they have been in­te­grated into the econ­omy. Many Repub­li­cans have joined Democrats in sup­port­ing DACA ben­e­fi­cia­ries, and polls show over­whelm­ing sup­port for them. It is no longer po­lit­i­cally risky to get be­hind them.

At the same time, many of the ads, videos and demon­stra­tions are sidestep­ping the ma­jor stick­ing point, an is­sue that has di­vided some im­mi­grant groups them­selves. Lead­ing Repub­li­cans have said any re­lief for the young im­mi­grants must be paired with bol­stered bor­der se­cu­rity, more re­stric­tions on le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, or both, a trade-off that is usu­ally left un­men­tioned in the ad­vo­cacy.

The mo­bi­liza­tion be­gan in Septem­ber, as soon as the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced the re­peal of the de­ferred-ac­tion pro­gram.

The fol­low­ing month, some 60 busi­nesses, trade as­so­ci­a­tions and other groups rep­re­sent­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery ma­jor in­dus­try formed the Coali­tion for the Amer­i­can Dream. Among the par­tic­i­pants are Coca-cola, West­ern Union, Ikea, Hil­ton and Mar­riott.

The com­pa­nies, which have a sub­stan­tial lob­by­ing pres­ence in Wash­ing­ton, be­gan lever­ag­ing re­la­tion­ships with law­mak­ers from dis­tricts where they have ma­jor op­er­a­tions. In midNovem­ber, of­fi­cials from 40 large com­pa­nies in­tro­duced DACA re­cip­i­ents who work for their firms to law­mak­ers.

Al Drago/the New York Times

Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians sup­port­ing im­mi­grants pro­tected un­der De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals were ar­rested as they demon­strated out­side Speaker Paul Ryan’s of­fice on Capi­tol Hill on Tues­day.

Ilana Panich-lins­man/the New York Times

A trav­el­ing ex­hi­bi­tion in which large-scale pho­to­graphs of young im­mi­grants and oth­ers are plas­tered on build­ings is dis­played at the Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton.

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