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Students Walking Out to Support Passage of Dream Act

The DACA program protects more than 800,000 people nationwide. (David McNew/Getty Images)
The DACA program protects more than 800,000 people nationwide. (David McNew/Getty Images)
November 9, 2017

SALEM, Ore. -- People in Oregon and across the nation are staging a walkout today to send a message to members of Congress that it's time to pass a clean Dream Act.

With only a month left in the 2017 session, advocates for immigrants' rights hope to spur the House and Senate to pass a bill protecting recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from deportation. More than 12,000 Oregonians receive DACA protections, allowing them to go to school and work.

One of those recipients is Leo Reyes, co-founder of the Oregon DACA coalition. He said it's helped him live a life without constant fear of deportation.

"So there's a huge component for me relating to self-esteem and being able to acknowledge that my status does not in any way diminish my humanity,” Reyes said.

Oregon would lose almost $630 million in GDP annually without DACA workers, according to research by the University of Southern California and the Center for American Progress. DACA protects about 800,000 people nationwide.

In Salem, the walkout is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., followed by a rally at the state capitol at 3.

Reyes said it's important that the Dream Act stay clean - that is, that the legislation doesn't include increased funding for immigration enforcement, attacks on sanctuary cities, or any other elements that might hurt undocumented people not eligible for DACA. He said he doesn't want to see DACA recipients used as a bargaining chip.

"I really see this as being an opportunity for us to build up our community and build up these individuals to be able to move forward in their lives and really continue with that pursuit of a dignified quality of life,” he said. “But that cannot come at the expense of their families."

President Donald Trump ended the DACA program more than two months ago. He has said it is now up to Congress to come up with a solution. Otherwise, protections will completely expire in March.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR