Rise Up & DREAM

By Faye Washington, President & CEO, YWCA Greater Los Angeles

It is time to RISE: to the aid of those who need us most. It is time to say that these are OUR children. This is OUR citizenry. Because at the very core of our American legal and civil society is the belief in freedom from oppression and persecution. Why kill a dream? Why punish those who are the most vulnerable?

What does it say about our system, our people, and our very belief in ourselves? That we should criminalize children who are in school, who are graduating, who are going to college? Who want to access an American dream because it is the only dream that they have ever known and wanted?

Where do we begin? We have six months to work together and change what will be devastation to so many. We understand the impact that ending DACA will make on our communities, our economy, and our belief in our system and ourselves. So let’s look to each other to solve this. And, let’s look at each other, directly in the eye. And eye-to-eye, let’s agree that the American Dream still means something: Unalterable, Inalienable, Inextinguishable.

Let us all rise to the occasion as the best American citizens we can be and take a stand for the dream. We Must All Continue to DREAM!

The YWCA Greater Los Angeles (YWCA GLA) remains resolute and focused on our mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all including the 800,000 youth recipients of the DACA program and the entirety of the 11 million immigrants who reside within the United States.

This year three of the 19 High School graduates from the YWCA GLA’s youth program are recipients of the DACA program and have been attending our programs since elementary and middle school. They are amongst the first in their families to graduate high school and attend college and have been awarded academic scholarships. These students are currently attending UC Irvine, California State University Los Angeles and East Los Angeles Community College. An example of how the DACA program creates real and tangible opportunities for these youth can be seen in the Youth Program’s first college graduate, also a Dreamer, who completed her education at UCLA and has successfully begun her teaching career with Los Angeles Unified School District.

Most of our Dreamers are the eldest in their families while their siblings are natural born citizens. If DACA is lost, younger brothers and sisters will lose parents they depend on and siblings whom they look up to and who have served as positive figures in their lives.

Termination of the DACA program will invariably lead to families being broken up and separated and with those children who are left behind being vulnerable to many of the same challenges faced by foster youth. On the other hand, DACA recipients who choose to stay in the only country that they know as home will be relegated to live in the shadows due to their undocumented status.

The potential impact of changes in the DACA program on the families, children, youth, seniors and survivors of sexual assault we serve could be devastating. The majority of the families we serve are amongst the most vulnerable in our society who heavily depend on the safety net we provide.

Whether it is childcare for parents who often work one or more jobs to make ends meet, after-school programs for youth or warm nutritious meals for seniors, their legal status has never been a barrier to receiving services.

YWCA GLA echoes the sentiments made by YWCA USA Interim CEO Casey Harden: “At YWCA, we see this for what it is: racial profiling, xenophobia, and bad public policy. We must stand by young women of color and ensure that they have access to every opportunity by protecting DACA and pursuing a permanent solution through the DREAM Act.” 

The YWCA GLA is committed to creating safe spaces to live, learn and grow. Interruptions to the multitude of critical services we provide could be potentially devastating not only for immigrant communities but also for our economy, safety net and social cohesion. It is for this reason that we stand in support of the DACA program and for immigrant rights. We support the upholding of existing laws and policies which advocate for justice and dignity for all people. We look forward to working in partnership with county agencies and community allies to safeguard protections and show solidarity with our immigrant communities to strengthen our county and nation.


***This piece was originally posted on The Huffington Post


TAKE ACTION TODAY to support and protect Dreamers in your community an throughout the country! Urge your Members of Congress to protect the 800,000 current DACA recipients as well as the 200,000 “little DREAMers” who have been waiting to turn 15 to be DACA eligible by passing of the Dream Act, which would provide legal status and a permanent pathway to citizenship for these young people and end the uncertainty and trauma they now face. Stand up for civil and human rights:

  • Write your members of Congress and ask them to support and pass the bipartisan Dream Act.
  • Call your members of Congress today and every day: 1-888-908-6307

Make your voice heard! We have the power to make the difference in the fight to defend Dreamers.