Last week, CASA organized a rally to calling on Congress to pass a clean DREAM act and calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. State Department to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program. We asked Belkis Amador,  Silver Spring Cares Board Member, and first-time rally attendee to share her experience. Here’s what she had to say:

“I immigrated from Honduras to this country at the age of two. I was given an Employment Authorization Card under the TPS program at the age of 19. I’m now 25 and TPS may no longer be an option for me.

Belkis Amador, SSC Board Member and First-Time Rally Attendee

In September 2017, President Trump announced the end of the DACA program, which was created under the Obama administration. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an immigration policy that allowed individuals who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and to be eligible for a work permit. Over 800,000 DREAMers, referred to as DREAMers after the DREAM Act bill, were enrolled in the program created by DACA.

As part of the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress established a procedure by which the Attorney General may provide a Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to immigrants in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. In November 2018, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke has announced her decision to terminate the TPS designations for Haiti and Nicaragua. She also determined that additional information is necessary regarding the TPS designation for Honduras and El Salvador.

On December 6, 2017, I was among thousands of young, immigrants protesting on the nation’s capital. Calling on Congress to pass a clean DREAM act and calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. State Department to extend the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.

I found out about the event through a Facebook event. CASA was leading the event, but there were other immigrant rights organizations as well, including local ones from New York, Alaska, Texas, the list goes on.

We rallied at Upper Senate Park around noon and marched towards the Capitol at 2 p.m. More than two hundred demonstrators, including immigration community leaders, spiritual and religious leaders, and several members of Congress staged a sit-in on the U.S. Capitol steps in a civil disobedience act and were arrested for refusing to move.

A large majority of us were rallying at the park until about 2 pm. It was well organized. There were multiple speakers including Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Congresswoman Judy Chu, CASA leaders, etc. There was a master of ceremony introducing us to the speakers and she let us know when it was time to march to the Capitol steps. Those that did the sit-in, knew they would be arrested for civil disobedience. When we arrived at the Capitol we were on the street and sidewalk, over time we were asked to back away onto the park lawn across the street, which we all did.

All in all, it was peaceful, as far as I know, no one was harmed. There were no fights, no organizations rallying against us, no police brutality. I know in recent events that have been a recurring issue. I for one tend to avoid going to rallies for that same reason. I can’t have any arrests or misdemeanors, having a TPS, I don’t want that on my record.

I am one of hundreds of thousands immigrants living in this country. The US is my home and all I know. The clock is ticking, and we’re waiting on Congress to pass legislation that protect us and not police us. I ask you take a moment out of your day to call Congress at 215-874-6784 and let them know you demand a clean DREAM act and the TPS program to continue. ”

Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Belkis! Do you have a volunteer experience that you’d like to share with our community? We’d love to hear it! Email heather@silverspringcares.org.