New: Toolbox of helpful information for DREAMers, DACA, DAPA

UPDATED: Optimized with additional information, tools, links, transcribed quotes, links to specific spots in the video and outside links to helpful information.

Replay video from the live webcast of What's Next for DREAMers, a panel discussion at the University of Texas at San Antonio Aula Canaria Lecture Hall on the downtown campus, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. SCROLL down below video for links, tools and transcript.

The free community event was coordinated by State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-123) and included remarks by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-23) and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-35). Panelists included Marisa Bono, Regional Counsel for MALDEF, Jonathan Ryan, Executive Director of RAICES and Marisol Pérez, partner at the immigration law firm DMCA LLP

The event was co-hosted by the UTSA College of Public Policy, State Sen. José Menéndez, State Sen. Carlos Uresti, State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, State Rep. Justin Rodriguez, State Rep. Diana Arévaio, State Rep. Ina Minajarez, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo, and San Antonio City Council members Roberto Treviño, Alan Warrick, Rey Saldaña, Shirley Gonzales and Ron Nirenberg.

Webcasts like these are made possible by viewers like you. Click here to donate now.

Texas Rep. Diego Bernal (D -123) started with a quick overview on how the event came about: “ This turnout, what it says to me is, this is a city that cares very much about everyone who lives here… After the election I spent a week and a half being the district grief counselor, with lots of people coming to me asking me what to do next, where do we go… what’s next for DREAMers? … I promised them that we would get them as much information as we could … that is what is here today.”

Bernal reiterated that his staff is there to answer questions and to find ways to make more lawyers available to DREAMers.
Phone: (210) 308-9700

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas District 23) talked about a the Bridge Act, a bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate. More information: 

“You guys know that we’re in for the long haul. We’re in for a fight and we’ve all got to be prepared for that. There may be some days that are grim and some that are rosy, but in the end I think that if we all work hard, if we all come together and if we all tell the story about who the dreamers are, I believe that in the end things will work out.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas District 23) told the DREAMers and their friends and family in the audience to contact his and other lawmakers’ offices.
Doggett  also talked about the community’s response when immigration officials brought 500 women and children to a San Antonio Mennonite church on Dec. NOWCastSA video and story
Doggett said  “I think the real danger from the [Trump] campaign to all of us, is the walls that he’s tried to build between us within this country. And our effort for the DREAMers, just like our broader effort on immigrant families being torn apart is how we overcome the walls that Donald Trump has already begun building with extremists within our country.”

Castro and Doggett urged people to contact their Congressional offices by email or telephone:
U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro
U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett

Two University of Texas at San Antonio student members of the Immigrant Youth Leadership talked about being DREAMers in San Antonio:  
Narda Martinez Saenz talked about her DACA status and invited others to attend their meetings at UTSA. Saenz said that whether you hold DACA, don’t, or just an ally, everyone in the community can help these people as they’re a vital part of San Antonio.

Carlos Aguilar spoke in Spanish, talk about how DACA has affected him and the community.

Marisa Bono, the Southwest Regional Counsel for MALDEF directed her opening remarks to the DREAMers. “You have a room full, a city full, a state full of advocates and leaders who are here to protect you and empower you. There are laws and institutions that have been established and are not going away regardless of what this administration does or regardless of what anyone does.”
“MALDEF stands with anyone, regardless of their immigration status … The conversation shouldn’t be about what rights and powers you don’t have when we can focus more on what rights you do have … The organization is a major resource ... not just for today.” 

Marisol Pérez, an immigration attorney with DMCA LLP said her firm strongly advocates for the DREAMer population in San Antonio.
Pérez said “And also letting them know, and I think that this is wonderful evidence of that, that we stand with them. We are no difference from them, they are a wonderful part of our citizen fabric here in the United States, yet we are one and the same. They may lack certain documents but we do stand with them…”

RAICES Executive Director Jonathan Ryan said his organization’s mission is protect refugees and immigrant families locally as well as other places across Texas.
Ryan said  “When I talk with immigrants and refugees in detention, mothers who have been thrown into a for-profit prison system, and I talk to them about this election; they’re cold-eyed, they’re stone-faced. They’re not shocked. They’ve seen it before. They know exactly what’s going to happen. And as the group that’s been working with these people and with our community for more than thirty years, so do we.”

Ryan said, “this group has seen these battles before and they know how to fight. DREAMers have always stood up for themselves and RAICES is standing there with the DREAMers.”

Question and Answer Session

Question 1: How can we prepare for the fight as we leave a major Presidential election and move into a mid-term election?

Bono said misinformation about photo IDs and voting during early voting and voting day made many first time voters feel disillusioned; that their vote doesn't actually count. Ryan said people need to look at all the agencies organization charts for groups that are for and against DREAMers in these coming fights.
Question 2: Is adoption an alternative way for DREAMers to become citizens?

Pérez said that adoption law is very well established under the Immigration and Nationality Act. In order for adoption to possibly occur, the person has to be under 16 years old, have no parents, or have been abandoned. The INA has very strict requirements to be in this particular circumstance in the first place. There are other options through non-profits and lawyers besides adoption. 

Question 3: A fourth grade teacher asked, what are key resources are available to share with these families?
Bono says to urge families to go to an attorney, a board certificated one. Maybe recommend a specific attorney so that they get a legitimate one. They  have payment plans or other terms of relief. Assure the kids that no one is getting deported overnight. You have to have your case heard by a judge first so it won’t happen in one day. There are laws in place to make sure that these things won’t happen without proper legal process.
Pérez says to try to be a confidant as their teacher. If they just go and see an immigration lawyer and see that they’re there to help the community. Bono informs everyone that there are resources available in District 20. Ryan lets the audience know that RAICES holds clinics that can be held at the schools if need be.
Go to this link to find out if an immigration lawyer has been disciplined.

Question 4: Is it true that after two or three years you can apply for citizenship after having DACA?
Ryan said DACA doesn’t lead to permanent status itself. Legalization and DACA are entirely separate processes. Perez said “If you are in any part of the DACA process ... it is still in place … you can still file.” Ryan continued and said that people should continue to file because that way the next administration doesn’t look at the lower numbers and say, “look, no one is using it, we don’t need it”.

Question 5: When the paperwork doesn’t come in, how do we make sure we can still have our jobs? What do I tell school districts when applying for jobs about my work permit?
Pérez said “you have status today and you will most likely have status next fall. ... DACA renewals have to happen around 150 days but not before then. ... Right now, file, because if you have the notification that you are just waiting on your work authorization, you can still get a driver's license because you technically still have status.” In terms of the school district, they all answer by saying that there’s no obligation for you to mention that you may have these problems but if they ask, please let them know. Ryan mentions that RAICES is trying to get major employers to sign off and agree that they won’t fire people during the interim of getting renewal of DACA.

Question 6: Some universities and cities are not enforcing federal immigration law, what are the risks if the current situation changes?
According to Bono, campus cops, mall cops, local cops, have no authority to enforce federal laws. “Federal immigration law falls squarely in the purview of the federal government, federal law enforcement. Local law enforcement should not be doing the federal government's job.” Perez says that sanctuary campuses or cities are saying they are respecting the rights of the students and citizens.

Question 7: What happens if President Trump tries to take away funding from these universities and cities for not supporting immigration law?
Ryan said “It takes solidarity at … regional and national levels” to make sure that people feel safe. Bono said President-Elect Trump, by himself, cannot pass legislation that would take away federal grants to those identifying themselves sanctuary campuses.

Question 8: What’s the purpose of saying ‘We Are A Sanctuary City or Campus’ because of what Governor Greg Abbott has proposed to do against those that do declare this status?
Bono answered by saying schools have an obligation to keep their students safe. Saying that campus is a sanctuary campus helps the community know that they're safe to be there and that they’re equal. Governor Abbott has no real authority to really say that because again, like with President-Elect Trump, he has to have legislative power in order to do something like this.

Question 9: What about the original DREAMers, like parents? Where does DAPA, Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, stand?
Doggett said “the direct answer for DAPA is that it stands nowhere.” DACA came from President Obama’s executive order. It was blocked in the supreme court. There is no real program on the horizon that will help create it.

Question 10: What is San Antonio doing to make undocumented people feel safe? Who can we call, where can we go?
San Antonio City Council Member Rey Saldaña from District 4 talked about the first responders promise to help all citizens of San Antonio. “There is probably nothing I can say that’s going to make you feel comforted, and I know that, but what I know to be true is that there are people who are in this position that control our first responders, that is orders from on high saying that we will not be enforcing any federal law that is not our role. Plus, there’s a heart to our police chief like there’s a heart to a lot of our police officers. In fact, that discretion, I’m sorry that you’ve had that experience, but that discretion in a lot of cases has helped a lot of people. An officer who knows he doesn’t have that mandate and also has a heart not to say that, this is a family that is just like my family. So there is protocols in place that will make sure that what you experienced doesn’t happen, but at the same time, there’s also leaders who, if it does happen, we need to know about it. Your experience personally and there nothing we can do on a whole to really make you feel as comfortable as you need to but know that the police chief has your back, the city council has your back, the mayor has your back.  We can talk right after this as well.”

State Representative Diego Bernal adds remarks about San Antonio first responders "The primary purpose, driving philosophy of our police department is public safety regardless of what the immigration status is of those folks - they want people to call when they need help. ... The fire chief, the police chief and the city manager have been very upfront about this philosophy."
Jonathan Ryan Ryan talked about the history of immigration raids in the United States when the Obama Administration first started back in 2008. Afterwards, he talked about how immigration raids work. “There are three parts to a raid; arrest, detention, and deportation.” Arrest is a city issue; detention is an county issue; and deportation is a federal issue. The removal process is not as simple as forcibly removing a person. The process listed has to be completed in order to physically remove a person from this country. Ryan stresses that you need to get to know each of your representatives at each of these stages. Lastly, Ryan adds that ICE can be involved in a local investigation but that’s only if the crime committed needs federal involvement.
Perez said “no one wants to try and figure out one’s immigration status ... call the police if you need them because they will protect you. ... Make sure you get a lawyer and don’t sign anything until you have the representation you deserve, if worse comes to worse.”

Question 11: What are sanctuary city policies that could benefit San Antonio? Like maybe the creation of a city committee that has partners like RAICES to better help out these communities?
Bono said that some type of local office that’s dedicated to engaging with the immigrant community to give out resources within the city would be most helpful for citizens of San Antonio.
San Antonio City Council Member Rebecca Viagran from District 3 gave a brief introduction and what committees in San Antonio are helping DREAMers.
Mayor’s Committee on Police/Community Relations meeting Dec. 12, 2016. They can try to make a resourceful website with this new committee by getting “information that was brought up just here on a website that’s more transparent so we have better access so people can know what the rights are ...”.
San Antonio City Council Member Roberto Treviño from District 1 gave a brief introduction and what the Office of Inclusion and Diversity can do to help the city as well as DREAMers.
Office of Inclusion and Diversity, only one person in that office. That office needs more support and they can really help with this issue in particular.

Question 12: How do we DREAMers join the fight and stay united? What are the real chances that the bridge act passes in this lame duck session?
Bono said we need to maintain leadership at the local level. MALDEF has a fact sheet that helps with this information, link provided below.
DREAMer and UTSA Immigrant Youth Leadership Representative Narda Martinez Saenz said the reason the this group exists at UTSA because they can meet together to feel safe. UTSA has about 700 undocumented students enrolled. Staying united is very important because they can stick together and be friends together. Allies can come together to make sure these students feel safe as well.

Question 13: Why is there not more collaboration with student organizations?
Bono said that these groups do work with schools with hate crimes and that people are scared of retaliation if they report these issues. Many nonprofits and community groups are definitely encouraging that students can come and work with them as they want to reach out not only to them but to all of San Antonio.

A comment from someone involved in the faith community here in San Antonio made sure to state that they are here for DREAMers.
The faith-based community is there to help and what they can do to help. Churches stand with DREAMers to be safe spaces.

A priest from Laredo talked about his relationship with immigrants.
Church is a mile from the Rio Grande River, past Mesquite. “They see the steeple and Jesus is there. Well Jesus isn’t there, I’m there.” Even though border patrol surrounds his church, he has successfully been helping immigrants when he can. People from El Salvador have come to him and told him their stories of how gangs run their country now. He wants to help people in anyway he can. 

Bernal concluded the event by thanking UTSA for hosting the event, NOWCastSA for broadcasting, specific people that created the event. His staff will stay back for as long as possible to make sure people get their questions answered.

Additional Resources




United We Dream
Worker’s Defense Project

Disciplined Immigration Lawyers

District 20

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

COSA Mayor’s Committee on Police/Community Relations

COSA Office of Diversity and Inclusion

U.S. Senate, Bridge Act Proposal

ICE leaving families at Mennonite church

Take Action:
Who Represents Me?
U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro
U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith
U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar
U.S. Congressman Will Hurd
TX Senator Carlos I. Uresti
TX Senator Judith Zaffirini
TX Senator Donna Campbell
TX Senator José Menéndez
TX Representative Andrew Murr
TX Representative Kyle Biedermann 
TX Representative Diana Arévalo
TX Representative Philip Cortez
TX Representative Tomas Uresti
TX Representative Roland Gutierrez 
TX Representative Barbara Gervin-Hawkins 
TX Representative Joe Straus
TX Representative Lyle Larson
TX Representative Diego Bernal
TX Representative Ina Minjarez
TX Representative Justin Rodriguez
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff 
Bexar County Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez
Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo
Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff
Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert
San Antonio City Council Member Roberto Treviño, District 1
San Antonio City Council Member Alan Warrick, District 2
San Antonio City Council Member Rebecca Viagran, District 3 
San Antonio City Council Member Rey Saldana, District 4
San Antonio City Council Member Shirley Gonzales, District 5
San Antonio City Council Member Ray Lopez, District 6 
San Antonio City Council Member Ana Sandoval, District 7
San Antonio City Council Member Ron Nirenberg, District 8
San Antonio City Council Member Joe Krier, District 9
San Antonio City Council Member Mike Gallagher, District 10 

Worker’s Defense Project