SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8 / AP) - San Diego "Dreamers" on Wednesday renewed their call for Congress to come up with a legislative solution to protect undocumented immigrants.
Organizers of the rally urged Congress to pass a "clean DREAM Act," a bill that would protect undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children without providing funds for President Donald Trump's promised border wall.
According to the Seed Project, a campaign of the pro-immigration group Movimiento Cosecha, the march toward the existing border barrier "is being used to highlight what is already in place that serves to separate undocumented communities."
Those who attended the rally will included young undocumented immigrants who are set to lose protections from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if it's allowed to expire next month without a deal. Other undocumented immigrants not protected by DACA, and supporters of both groups also took part in the march.
"On the eve of this deadline, it is important to remind people that we are fighting for more than legislation, but for the recognition of our humanity," said Karla Estrada, founder of UndocuTravelers. "We are here to uplift the stories of our community and to face the wall that has caused pain to countless people. The wall that will determine the lives of immigrant youth and many immigrants to come."
During the march and rally, DACA recipients and undocumented immigrants shared their stories and the stories of young immigrants who have already been deported. The stories will highlighted what organizers called the "cruel and outdated immigration system" and the way "undocumented youth are being used as a tool in Congress to increase enforcement."
"Undocumented youth will continue, now more than ever, demanding that Democrats hold the line, grow courage and say #NoDreamNoDeal," said Fernanda Madrigal, an undocumented immigrant who's part of the Seed Project. "Every day the DREAM Act does not pass, over 122 people lose their status. Undocumented youth are at risk of detention and deportation even despite having DACA."
Movimiento Cosecha, the group promoting the Seed Project campaign, advocates for the permanent protection of all undocumented immigrants, not just those protected under DACA. It's a position that seems extreme in the current polarized immigration battle, but was welcomed even by conservative Republicans just a few decades ago.
"I will not be a bargaining chip and throw my community deeper into the shadows or for families to be separated -- the time to act is now," said Barbara Hernandez, a DACA recipient from the Seed Project. "We need permanent protection, not only for the youth but for all 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country."
In Washington D.C., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi staged a record-breaking, eight-hour speech Wednesday in hopes of pressuring Republicans to allow a vote on protecting "Dreamer" immigrants — and to demonstrate to increasingly angry progressives and Democratic activists that she has done all she could.
Wearing four-inch heels and forgoing any breaks, Pelosi, 77, spent much of the rare talkathon reading personal letters from the young immigrants whose temporary protection from deportation is set to expire next month. The California Democrat quoted from the Bible and Pope Francis, as Democrats took turns sitting behind her in support.
The Office of the House Historian said it was the longest continuous speech in the chamber on record.
Pelosi said she'd oppose the budget deal unless GOP leaders agreed to hold a House vote on helping the Dreamers. But top Democrats said they weren't corralling rank-and-file lawmakers to oppose the budget pact, leading some of the party's immigration advocates to question the forcefulness of her opposition.