“Immigration law is something like a dam that holds back the natural movement of life.”

On March 25th, the Global Hispanic Caucus hosted the event “Immigration Reform: Farmworker and Dreamer Justice” in collaboration with the Global AAPI, LGBTQ, and Youth Caucuses as well as DA Canada, DA Spain, DA Mexico, and DA Germany. The event focused on the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, as well as the separate American Dream and Promise Act (HR-6) and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (HR-1603), which are currently being discussed in Congress. 

The first speaker was Tawheeda Wahabzada, a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient and the co-founder of Departed Dreamers, a group on social media to gather other DREAMERs & DACA recipients who left the country to provide a personal and professional support group for those who are starting a new chapter of their life in a foreign environment. She was raised in Carson City, NV, and moved back to Toronto, Canada in early 2020. Due to the restrictions put in place by the Trump Administration, she was unable to travel for her job and faced difficulties when talking with politicians, which contributed to her decision to leave. By leaving, it was a “way to finally reclaim [her] agency”. This decision to leave also meant that she cannot re-enter the U.S. for ten years. With the Dream and Promise Act, it will provide a streamlined pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients, as well as for those that do not qualify for DACA, and those with temporary protected status. As the bill moves to the Senate, Tawheeda stressed the importance of pressuring our Democratic Senators to preserve the original language in the Dream and Promise Act.

Eun Suk “Jason” Hong is an ex-DACA recipient from NY/NJ who moved to Madrid, Spain, in August 2019 to pursue a dual Masters degree. He co-founded Departed Dreamers with Tawheeda. Eun Suk shared his story and the sense of relief provided by the passage of DACA, which allowed him and fellow DREAMERs to step out of the shadows and feel like they may be accepted in their communities. For him, “The Dream and Promise Act isn’t about providing a legal status or paper or documents. It’s about giving people their freedom and their humanitarian rights. [...] The Dream and Promise Act is the vaccination that every DREAMER needs.”

Edgar Franks is the Political Director of Familias Unidas por la Justicia. He has worked on a variety of initiatives that led to greater protections and treatment of farmworkers and their families. This union is the only farmworker union to be founded in the last 30 years in the U.S. and is made up of indigenous Mexican people. Edgar spoke to us about the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which was drafted during the Trump Administration and negotiated without much consent from farm labor groups. He pointed out some of the red flags of this bill and why this is not a bill farm workers actually want. This includes making e-verify mandatory, which requires the need of a valid social security number to allow someone to work, and the expansion of the H-2A program or guest worker program that allows employers to limit and control their movements and cap wages, among others.

Nicole Salgado moved into voluntary exile in Central Mexico in 2006 with her husband Margarito Reséndiz. Due to her husband’s immigration record, they had to leave the U.S. and wait ten years to apply for re-entry due to his permanent ban status. She wrote about it in her book Amor and Exile and shared with us the story of her and her family as they tried to re-enter the U.S. This included the psychological toll life in exile took and the stress of the process to re-apply for re-entry. She stressed the need for legislation to include families that are affected by exile and to help build awareness that families are being impacted in this way.

The event ended by the speakers answering some questions from the audience. A recording of the entire event can be viewed here. For those interested in participating in the “DREAM with Us” challenge, presented by the Global Hispanic Caucus, more information is available here.

 

**Main quote from Nicole Salgado during her talk at the event.