Originally Published: October 13, 2017 5:55 a.m.
Senator John McCain is about to receive 20 letters from local students and other community members urging him to support a clean Dream Act.
In coordination with similar actions across the state, about 40 people organized in front of McCain’s old office along Cortez Street in Prescott on Wednesday, Oct. 11, to voice their message in front of a camera and then march to the US Post Office on Goodwin St. to deliver letters addressed to McCain’s Phoenix office.
“We are here to show that rural northern Arizona is active, united, powerful and is standing up for immigrants in our community, said Miriel Manning, a Prescott College instructor and organizer with The Freedom Education Fund and the Frantz Fanon Community Strategy Center.
In those letters are pleas from community members like Itzel Rios, a Prescott College student and undocumented person that benefited from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“McCain, you co-sponsored the Dream Act in 2003 and 2005,” Rios wrote in her letter. “In 2007 and 2010 you failed to support your Arizona undocumented community. Will you show your support through a co-sponsorship of a clean Dream Act? 300,000 Arizonans are counting on you.”
By their definition, a clean Dream Act means providing DACA recipients a path to citizenship without adding anything to the bill that would negatively impact them or the other undocumented immigrants in the U.S. This would include not increasing immigration enforcement, not licensing a mass deportation effort, not increasing bed quotas and not increasing the number of border patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
During an interview last month on CNN’s “State of the Union,” McCain was asked if he thinks Congress should codify DACA and if he thinks there should be a path to citizenship for the DACA recipients.
“I think yes and yes,” McCain said. “But I think it ought to be done in a comprehensive fashion.”
McCain added it isn’t “conscionable to tell young people who came here as children that they have to go back to a country that they don’t know.”
“There is 900 of these Dreamers that are serving in uniform in the United States military,” he said.
“Are we going to go to a young man or woman serving in Afghanistan or Iraq today, and say, ‘Hey by the way, you’re a Dreamer, get back to fill-in-the-blank?’” he asked.
“We’re not going to do that to these young men and women who are serving in uniform.”
The country needs a “comprehensive plan,” he said.
Some legislators, such as Nanci Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, have publicly committed to passing such an act.
Others, such as U.S. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, don’t believe it is realistic to pass a bill that doesn’t include some bipartisan compromises.
His recently introduced legislation provides a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, but includes funding for additional fencing and access roads at the U.S.-Mexico border, and stronger immigration enforcement beyond the border.
Congress has less than five months to pass any form of Dream Act before the DACA program officially expires.