Connecticut Dreamers, who each recently received a two-year safeguard against deportation called a “deferred action,” are anxious to see Congress pass legislation that gives their parents a pathway to citizenship.
Sabrina and Matias Garcia, who were brought to Connecticut from Uruguay by their parents when they were 6 and 8 years old, said they have deferred action, which enables them to get temporary work permits, but their parents are still in danger.
“I would really like this reform to happen,” Sabrina Garcia told U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal Monday at a press conference in Hartford.
The Garcias, who attend Maloney High School in Meriden, were joined at the press conference by another dreamer.
“Yes, I am a dreamer. Yes, I have deferred action. But it’s not enough,” Camila Bordoletto of Danbury said. “Stop criminalizing our parents.”
Bordoletto and her twin sister Carolina were brought to the U.S. from Brazil by their parents when they were 9 years old.
The executive order signed by President Barack Obama gives the Bordolettos and the Garcias — who were under 16 when they came to the U.S. and have no criminal record — a safeguard from deportation for two years. The order went into effect this summer.
Blumenthal has been an outspoken advocate for the DREAM Act that would provide undocumented youth a pathway to citizenship after completing a college degree or two years of military service. He said he believes the time is ripe for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We want all of those undocumented workers and people to come out of the shadows and feel that they can have the security to step forward,” Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal said he’s been speaking with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who heads the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration. Schumer believes “we have a real chance to produce a bill late this spring. For the first time the dream is achievable.”
There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States who may benefit from the legislation.
“Comprehensive Immigration Reform would be a tribute to the heritage of the United States, a nation of immigrants,” said Jennifer Thampan, associate director of immigration services for the International Institute of Connecticut. “We need reform right now. “
In addition to supporting comprehensive immigration reform, which may have a more difficult time passing the U.S. House, Blumenthal also supports legislation that would increase the amount of visas and green cards for highly-skilled workers in science and technology.
“The measure is about American competitiveness,” Blumenthal said. “We must also honor the immigrant roots of our nation and create opportunities for people from throughout the world to come here and support our thriving innovative sectors.”
The co-sponsors of that legislation include Republican U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah and U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Blumenthal dismissed the criticism that comprehensive immigration reform gives amnesty to undocumented immigrants. He said it’s a pathway to earn citizenship and there is a bipartisan group in both the House and the Senate who are working on a similar blueprint.
“I think this moment is historic,” Blumenthal said. “There’s a growing consensus that we have an opportunity but also an obligation as as a country to make use of the talents that come to us from our diversity.”