Local Dreamers are heading to Washington, D.C., next week to spur Congress to come up with a fix for DACA, the program for undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children.
With a March deadline now less than six months away, DACA recipients and immigration reform advocates are pushing for a solution and certainty by the end of the year.
The effort has found an ally in the tech and business community, as tech leaders, including Brad Smith of Microsoft, have not held back from speaking out on the issue.
Founders and supporters listed on their website, includes a who’s who of tech from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg.
Schulte, whose based in Washington D.C., is on a West Coast swing this week with stops across Washington.
“Microsoft has been an incredible leader in this fight. Folks like Alaska airlines and Starbucks. Companies big and small have joined folks like the faith community. And yesterday, we were meeting with folks in agriculture sector,” Schulte told KING 5.
“It’s great to see so many different industries coming together and saying we need to protect these DACA recipients and we need to pass a DREAM Act right now.”
Of the nation’s 800,000 DACA recipients, nearly 19,000 of them live in Washington state.
“I'm an American. I've been raised here. I've been going to school. I've been doing my due diligence to be a good citizen,” said Vanessa Alvarez Sanchez of Pasco, a DACA recipient brought to the U.S. at age seven.
“This is the country where, pretty much, I was raised. I’ve been here for my whole life, and this is where I want to contribute to society,” said Sanchez, a WSU grad who’s now working with FWD.us to reach out to members of Congress.
“We think between now and the end of the year, this is going to be the issue that both parties can come together and agree upon,” said Schulte. “You’re going to continue to see business leaders, faith leaders, all these constituencies come together and say both parties need to compromise and get this done.”
Schulte and other advocates are currently pushing for the DREAM Act, legislation that would give Dreamers a pathway to legal citizenship, something they currently don’t have.
Another Republican-led bill called the RAC Act (Recognizing America’s Children Act) would grant legal protections and an eventual pathway to legal citizenship, to those who work full-time, enroll in school or serve in the military, under narrow provisions compared to the DREAM Act.
While it’s unknown what a final comprise will look like, House Democrats, including Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal have launched a discharge petition for the DREAM Act, a procedural tool aimed at trying to force a vote.
218 signatures are required; currently the petition has 193 as of Wednesday evening.
“Neither party is going to get everything it wants. This is going to have to pass with a majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats,” said Schulte.
Alvarez Sanchez, who’s headed to D.C. next week to meet with lawmakers, says she remains hopeful something will get done before it’s too late.
“I've been here for 17 years; I feel like every year, we're one step closer,” said Alvarez Sanchez. “I do believe in having that confidence in Congress that they're going to do the right thing, and they're going to support us.”