WASHINGTON – A group of Arizona “dreamers” huddled outside the U.S. Capitol Monday night.
Every few minutes, when they spotted a member of Congress, they snapped into action, approaching the lawmaker to talk about their support for Dream Act legislation.
Some lawmakers stopped to chat. Others continued without slowing and with little acknowledgment.
As the hours passed, a brisk breeze added to the chill of the 40-degree night, sending shivers through the group.
I’m here “to pretty much put a face out to the people who don’t know our story, to show them that we’re wanting to stay here, to better ourselves, to better our people, to better our country. And just personally, to say I contributed,” said Susana Nava, who lives in Phoenix and has a work permit and protection from deportation under the soon-to-expire Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Nava and the other dreamers and their allies had, in some cases, packed 10 people to a van on Friday night to make the 40-hour drive to Washington, D.C.
Their goal: make a connection with as many of the 535 members of Congress as possible.
Immigration advocates are mounting an all-out push to get Congress to pass a version of the Dream Act before the end of December out of fear it presents the last opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to strike a deal over the contentious issue.
Nearly 700,000 dreamers —undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — begin losing the temporary protection from deportation provided by DACA in March. But the dreamers see negotiations this month over measures required to keep the government funded as the last, best chance to see Congress address their tenuous immigration status.
“For me and many dreamers across the nation, it’s really important that we have Dream Act legislation by the end of this year,” said Reyna Montoya, a 27-year-old dreamer from Gilbert, brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 13.
By Daniel Gonzalez for AZCENTRAL
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