By Dotty Nygard
The American Dream has always been about opportunity for everyone. Our country was founded on values of fairness, diversity, and support for the oppressed, with our iconic Statue of Liberty lighting the way towards broadly shared prosperity.
That dream and vision for America has been tarnished and distorted over the last year by President Trump and his enablers in Congress, including our own representative, Jeff Denham, who
has supported Trump’s worst impulses and initiatives.
Together they’ve worked to divide our country by race, class, and religion; by using fear and bigotry as tools for their political gain and no issue has defined their un-American, divisive brand of
politics more than immigration.
Last year began with the Muslim travel ban – and the denigration of the activists and judges who opposed it – then it ended with their decision to deny promised legal protection to 800,000
Dreamers, who are immigrants that arrived here as children and now face deportation.
Half of the voters in District 10 are Latino and many are among the estimated 200,000 Californians who were protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – the Dreamers.
As a nurse, a sense of compassion for those in need is my guiding principle. As a Democrat who is running for Congress to unseat Denham, my priority is bringing that sense of compassion to immigration and other emotionally charged issues to protect our hardest working communities.
In September, Trump unilaterally ended DACA and the Dreamers’ ability to legally work or go to school in this country, and Denham has been part of the House Republican faction who has been blocking a legislative solution to the problem.
Denham is pushing his own ENLIST Act as an immigration solution, which would make military service the only pathway to citizenship, an insulting and paternalistic approach that denies Dreamers the liberty this country once promised. Military service is not the only way to show patriotism for our country!
On the Friday of Veteran’s Day weekend, I joined dozens of amazing young leaders and advocates for social justice and marched 17 miles from Merced to Livingston. As we marched the same pathway that Cesar Chavez marched in demanding many of the same basic immigrant rights 50 years ago, we chanted: “What do we want? A clean Dream Act. When do we want it? Now!”
The demonstration, organized by our regional Mecha clubs, called for passage of a “clean Dream Act;” one that lets Dreamers work for their citizenship and their dreams without including funding for Trump’s provocative, multi-billion-dollar border wall, and does not have inhumane deportation or detention provisions.
I didn’t do the whole three-day march, but I did meet them at their final destination in Modesto to support the strong, knowledgeable activists that are demanding their human rights from our government. I may not be able to walk a mile in their shoes, but I followed in their footsteps to share their message. I’ll always defend the Dreamers and their dreams for our representatives to support the shared American values of freedom, opportunity, compassion, and respect for human rights.
I stand with the two-thirds of Americans who want our government to listen to them and create an immigration system that provides a clear, concise, and consistent pathway to citizenship. It’s time for Denham to stand with us too. Their fate could be decided as early as January when the budget authorization is voted on, and its time for Denham to speak on our behalf.
We’re lucky to live in a country that says to the world “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...” This is not just a moment, but a movement to defend our core American values from the fearful attempts by Trump, Denham, and the current administration to undermine the pillars of liberty.