PRESS STATEMENTThursday, July 20, 2017Contact: Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus | email@example.com
Immigrant coalition launches campaign to defend 8000+ Tennessee youthNASHVILLE - At 12:30pm EST today, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) will hold a press conference to discuss newly crafted legislation, The Dream Act of 2017, to protect young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. The renewed, bi-partisan push for a Dream Act comes as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is under immediate threat, putting the futures of 800,000 undocumented youth at risk. On June 29th, 2017, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery joined attorneys general and a governor from nine other states in issuing an ultimatum to President Trump: end the DACA program by September 5th, 2017 or they'll sue. During the campaign then-candidate Trump pledged to terminate the DACA program, but the president has so far declined to follow through. Now, AG Slatery and his colleagues are forcing his hand, demanding that he end the program or they will file a lawsuit in the Texas courtroom of Judge Andrew Hanen, the notoriously anti-immigrant judge who blocked President Obama's 2014 executive order to protect undocumented parents. The DACA program, and the fate of 800,000 young people, would be defended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of the DACA program. The president's Secretary of Homeland Security, who oversees the department that administers the DACA program, recently predicted that the program wouldn't survive the legal challenge.Since the program began in 2012, more than 800,000 young immigrants across the country have received deferred action, including more than 8000 Tennesseans. DACA has been an unquestionable success as youth have been able to more fully participate in and contribute to their communities with work permits and without fear of deportation. The program is also exceptionally popular. According to an April Morning Consult and Politico poll, 78% of American voters support giving Dreamers the chance to stay permanently in America, including 73% of Trump voters. The following is a statement from Stephanie Teatro, Co-Executive Director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC):"Threatening the more than 8000 young Tennesseans who have benefited from DACA with deportation is unthinkably cruel and un-American. Terminating the DACA program would be devastating for the lives of thousands of Tennessee young people and their families and would be disastrous for our economy and broader community. In this era of mass deportations, AG Slatery has helped draw a line in the sand and now all of Tennessee's members of Congress and leaders will have to decide which side they're on.We cautiously support the proposed Dream Act; immigrant youth deserve a permanent solution and the opportunity to get on a pathway to citizenship. But we know that some members of Congress will try to hold the future of DACA recipients hostage by insisting the Dream Act only pass in exchange for other extreme, anti-immigrant policies. Legislation or not, the president has a clear decision to make: he must protect DACA."
The following is a statement from Cesar Bautista, TIRRC Youth Organizer:"When I received DACA in 2013, my life was transformed. I'm working in a job that I love, I'm able to fully participate in my community without fear, and I bought my first house where my wife and I are raising our one year-old daughter. I have been in Tennessee for twenty years; Tennessee is my home and I am here to stay.As our members of Congress return to Tennessee for the August recess, they will face the 8000 DACA recipients who AG Slatery wants to deport and the thousands of our teachers, employers, friends, and neighbors who will be standing with us. We fought too hard for the DACA program and it's been too successful - we won't let extremists like AG Slatery take it away. We'll be organizing a massive movement in defense of DACA and urge all Tennesseans of good conscience to join us."
TIRRC is a statewide, immigrant and refugee-led collaboration whose mission is to empower immigrants and refugees throughout Tennessee to develop a unified voice, defend their rights, and create an atmosphere in which they are recognized as positive contributors to the state. Since its founding in 2001, TIRRC has worked to develop immigrant leadership, build the capacity of its immigrant-led member organizations, help immigrant community members understand and engage in the civic process, and educate the public about policies that would better promote integration of new immigrants and facilitate their full participation in US society. In just a few years TIRRC has grown from a grassroots network of community leaders into one of the most diverse and effective coalitions of its kind, a model for emerging immigrant rights organizations in the Southeast and throughout the United States.