Dreamers to Obama: Don’t leave our parents behind

As President Barack Obama prepares to take executive action on immigration, Dreamers have a message for the president: Don’t leave our parents behind. “It is…
Dreamers to Obama: Don’t leave our parents behind

Mothers of Dreamers hold a banner at Lafayette Square near the White House on November 3, 2014. That’s the day they started fasting in order to pressure President Obama to protect a broad group of immigrants from deportation through executive action. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

As President Barack Obama prepares to take executive action on immigration, Dreamers have a message for the president: Don’t leave our parents behind.

“It is becoming clear that there is a new consensus emerging from those who support our communities — the parents of Dreamers must be protected,” Lorella Praeli, director of advocacy and policy at United We Dream, said Tuesday during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

SEE ALSO: Obama is ‘nearing a final decision’ on executive action

Obama could take action as early as this week to offer deportation relief and work authorization to millions of undocumented immigrants. The president did something similar in 2012 when he announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for undocumented youth who came to the United States as children.

The New York Times reported last week that up to 5 million undocumented immigrants — including parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents — could benefit from Obama’s planned executive actions. But it’s still unclear whether the parents of Dreamers will also qualify for protection.

Image of Erika Andiola, who is resigning her job in Congress to stop her mom's deportation.

Erika Andiola (right) stands next to her mother, Guadalupe Arreola, at a press conference last December. (VOXXI/Griselda Nevarez)

Erika Andiola, a Dreamer and co-director of the Dream Action Coalition, said she hopes her mother is not left out from Obama’s executive actions.

In an op-ed published Tuesday by the Huffington Post, Andiola said her mother was put in deportation proceedings two years ago when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials raided her home and arrested her mother.

Andiola said shortly after that happened, she quit her job as a staffer for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in Washington, D.C., and returned to Arizona to fight to stop her mother’s deportation. She succeeded in convincing immigration officials to allow her mother to stay in the U.S. temporarily.

But Andiola’s mother is still not in the clear. She has an appointment with ICE officials in December where she’ll find out if she gets to stay in the country for another year.

Andiola said she now hopes Obama will “go big” and extend relief to her mother and other immigrants like her who are parents of Dreamers but don’t have children who are U.S. citizens or legal residents.

“Dreamers across the country have given their lives to this fight, and I ask you to not leave our parents and those who might not have family ties to U.S. citizens, behind,” Andioa said in the op-ed, directing her message to Obama. “Please don’t leave my mother behind.”

SEE ALSO: Republicans looking for ways to stop Obama on immigration

Dreamers aren’t the only ones calling on Obama to include their parents in his planned executive actions. A group of mothers of Dreamers have been fasting outside the White House since Nov. 3, making their case for why the president should protect them and other immigrants with strong ties to the U.S. from deportation. They are part of an advocacy group called Dreamers’ Moms USA.

Dreamers' moms

A group of mothers of Dreamers joined Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard during a press conference Tuesday. (Twitter/@Rep.RoybalAllard)

Lenka Mendoza, a mother of two Dreamers who lives in Virginia, is among those who have been fasting outside the White House for 16 days. In an interview with VOXXI, she explained why Obama should offer relief to parents of Dreamers.

“A lot is said about the qualities of our sons and daughters and the contributions they’re making to this country,” Mendoza said. “But we, as parents, are the ones who have instilled those qualities in our children, and we shouldn’t be put aside.”

She added that like Dreamers, parents also deserve an opportunity to stay in the country because they have “worked hard and contributed to the economic development of this country.”

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, echoed that message during a press conference on Tuesday. She was joined by the mothers who are fasting as well as Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), who are also part of the working group.

“Like the Dreamers, the parents of Dreamers love our country and contribute to our economy every day,” Roybal-Allard said. “As women leaders in Congress, our message is simple, Mr. President: Don’t separate children from their parents. Keep families together. And enable moms and dads to come out of the shadows to openly contribute to our country, and to live their lives with dignity and respect.”

SEE ALSO: Archbishop of Miami joins in demanding executive action on immigration reform