Bay Ridge activists band together to call for the passing of a clean Dream Act

A bevy of Bay Ridge and citywide organizations banded together on Monday, February 5 to urge Congressmember Dan Donovan and Senator Chuck Schumer to help pass a clean Dream Act before Congress’ February 8 budget deadline.

The 2017 Dream Act is a bipartisan legislative solution for over 2.1 million immigrant youth and young adults who came to the states as children but have no pathway to citizenship, who had been covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program begun under President Barack Obama and ended last year by President Donald Trump.

The rally – held at the corner of 86th Street and Fourth Avenue in temperatures as low as the mid-20s – was hosted by the Arab American Association of New York, Fight Back Bay Ridge, Bay Ridge for Social Justice, South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance and the New York Immigration Coalition.

“It was incredible to see local residents from Bay Ridge – a neighborhood of immigrants – come together and rally in support of protecting our Dreamers,” said Andrew Gounardes, a Bay Ridge resident and candidate for the Democratic nomination to square off against State Senator Marty Golden in November. “Although the Dream Act is being debated down in Washington, the front lines of the fight to make sure that children raised in this country can stay in this country are right here in our local community. We need a clean Dream Act and we need it now.”

Also in attendance at the rally was Michael DeCillis, a Staten Island Democrat hoping for a chance at Donovan’s seat come Election Day. He was the only potential Donovan opponent at the gathering.

Local resident Teri Brennan shared with this paper why she, too felt it was important to attend Monday night’s rally.

“The foundation of our country, our very essence, is about finding and making better lives. It has driven every wave of immigration with people fleeing hardship and/or seeking opportunity,” she said. “My own Irish ancestors were so poor that they lived in the workhouses where parents and children were separated. I am profoundly grateful that they made their way to America hundreds of years ago.

“My mother was born in 1918. She used to say that she was not proud to be American because it was not something she had achieved. It was purely an extremely fortunate accident of birth,” she went on. “There is a lot to be afraid of in this world right now. Decent people seeking better lives for themselves and their children are not among them. I can’t imagine any good parent who would not go to the ends of the earth to get their own children to a better place. None of us who got here before are entitled to deny the same opportunities to those who came later. ‘Showing up’ for the vulnerable is something we all should be doing, in whatever way we are each able to show up – rallies and demonstrations, reaching out to elected officials, befriending our neighbors, teaching our kids to be empathetic. It all matters.”

The rally consisted of peaceful protest, unifying chants and in-real-time calls and postcard writing to elected officials.

“I am thankful that our community is one in which more and more people are showing up,” Brennan said.

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