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Senator Strives to Show Human Face of Dreamers and Migrants

— February 8, 2018

A March deadline set by President Donald Trump to resolve the Dreamers crisis is approaching fast. So far, lawmakers seem to have accomplished little to resolve the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people now living within the United States.

Throughout December and January, the scope of potential immigration reforms only widened.

Beyond Dreamers, the Department of Homeland Security canceled the Temporary Protected Status classification of thousands of legal immigrants, many from disturbed parcels of Central America and the Caribbean. Haitians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans – men and women who lived law-abiding lives in the United States now face the possibility of returning to homelands they’ve not seen in decades.

But, writes, the consequences of whatever may happen won’t only affect congressional constituents – it’ll impact lawmakers themselves.

“We’re ground zero for this debate on immigration,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto on Wednesday. “Those very people that we’re deciding their fate, they’re serving us. They’re either serving me coffee and my colleagues, or they’re cleaning the tables, or they’re working in the Pentagon doing the same thing.”

A portion of metal fencing separating the United States and Mexico. Image via the Office of U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey.

One of the workers Cortez Masto met, Ana Gomez, is a Dreamer, mother of three, and wife to a TPS recipient in need of a kidney transplant. She works in the Senate cafeteria, alongside citizens and other migrants.

Protections for TPS recipients, notes, have become part of the wider debate on Dreamers, DACA, and the plight of illegal immigrants who came to America when they were too young to make an independent decision.

If lawmakers can muster a spending bill by the week’s end – an effort now being hindered Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) – immigration talks are likely to hit the senate floor by next week.

Cortez Masto is, in the meantime, trying to “put a true face and true facts to who these people are.”

“Oftentimes we’re in the halls here, and we’re making decisions that impact people’s lives, but we’re in a bubble. There’s real faces and names and families behind every decision we make,” she said. “Too often, there’s numbers and graphs, and we don’t actually look at who’s being impacted, and that’s the unfortunate thing.”

Among Cortez Masto’s main priorities is the normalization of Dreamers and TPS recipients. Pushing back against the president’s insistence that some classes of immigrants are prone to criminality, the senator used ordinary faces to show a fresh perspective.

“They came here because they were fighting for their lives or their families’, their kids’ lives,” she told “They’re doing everything that anyone else that is a citizen here is doing. And they’re taking jobs that no other citizen is gonna take.”


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