United We Dream Co-Founder Cristina Jiménez Discusses the Dream Act
Did the Obama Administration failed to pass the Dream? Act THROUGH LEGISLATION. I think that this is such an important lesson even as we think about the future of this country and the election this year because it ultimately came down to two things one is this a priority for the administration. Who's in the White House into? What is the power that we really have to move this through Congress and you know Bama Ron Very pro-immigrant agenda promising? The Dream Act immigration reform. I remember knocking on doors for Obama. Biz Lavinia when you know. We were so inspired by him and when the face of came up immediately you see a shift in that even though he talked a lot about immigration and he's intention to work on it he deprioritize shoe and you know you hear things like Rahm Emanuel at the time chief staff saying Oh you know that they rail like do not even work on that right now and MS prioritize healthcare. But when that moment happens it's no longer a priority for the ministration and then when you look at Congress for one of Obama's terms you had both houses that were led by Democrats and sometimes people don't believe me at least yeah. They could have passed legislation at that point. They didn't because it wasn't a political priority. So that's one answer to your question. The other one is the for the second term. Not only that. He wasn't a priority but at that point the leverage that Democrats had had changed. Because then you had a Republican Senate and when you look at twenty ten with the vote on the Tremont the House of Representatives under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi passes the bill and then in the Senate. The bill folks shore a five votes and those votes were from Democrats. The we had had moderate Democrats voting with US quite frankly many undocumented a young people will be citizens right now including myself and my brother and many others that are part of the United we dream so what I'm trying to say here is that it is in the Senate where we have to have a real talk about. Our power and moderate Democrats are now with us on this issue. So let's talk about the success. You have had convincing the Obama Administration to issue an executive order bypassing Congress. How did you do it going against all conventional wisdom so at the moment we said especially after the lesson of the Dream Act Voting Twenty? Turn when we were like okay you know. We may not have enough power yet to pass legislation. We have powered to hold the president accountable. And that's when we made the shift in the strategy to look at the president as a key decision maker. That could give us what we want. And we decided to ask the administration to stop the deportations of young people and many people within the establishment of the Democratic Party and even the advocacy sector immigrant rights. Were saying to us. Like you're crazy. Part of the pushback was that dreamers. Were the most sympathetic group that you did. Have all of this public support and that without you as part of the equation. It became harder car to do everything else. That's definitely one of the arguments that were made. You know there were other arguments that we should not put pressure on a friend that it was not strategic. You know it's not sophisticated enough. I remember hearing many people say task. They're young people don't know what they're doing their strategies not as sophisticated to counter the argument that you raise. Well we were saying was if we are able to have one win and protect some segment our community. We are increasingly building power to continue to win for more and as an organizer. We need victories to continue to organize and bill movements. There were multiple strategies There was a legal strategy where we work with lawyers to make the argument to the White House that this was within executive authority. The White House Legal Counsel Saito's No. It's not possible. Said yes it is possible. And here's all the legal expert on immigration. Who are telling you so. And then we had the people power pressure we showed up but Obama events and where he was speaking all over the country. I actually had this conversation with the president himself. I was in a meeting with him and this was after Dhaka and I said to him. You know like Dhaka was a huge victory for our community. My brother Jonathan was protected under Dhaka and so many young people were leaving now With less fear but I remember saint him but you know the petitions are still happening so we. We need you to stop this. He got you know a bed accessory did buy me Christine. I just gave you what you want. If exactly the nice say no but we don't stop there. We need more and you know the petitions were still happening. And I was saying like Mr President. We have so many people that are still getting the ported and what he said to me is what I need to do is organized your movement and your people to bring Republicans to the table. Because if I say that I'm not GONNA do rotations. They are not gonna come to the table so I need to do your organizing to Republicans and I need to continue to drive an agenda that where I am. I am seen in felt as tough on immigration enforcement and I will never forget the because he's administration ends with no immigration reform and so it was a miscalculation also from his part and the part of the Democratic Party who believe that that could be a winning strategy. Tell me about the moment you learned that President Obama was signed the executive order. Where were you I was in? La and We were actually getting ready to lead our next phase of escalation on this campaign which included a direct action in Downtown La and right before the evening in La. I get a call from You know my friend Governor Chaco. Who was working with United? We dream at the time and Representing us in leading the advocacy working. These see and she tells me it's going to happen tomorrow.