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Democratic Senator from Illinois Tammy Duckworth (R) speaks at a rally for the Dream Act with a focus on women, families, and the LGBTQ community; on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, Oct. 3, 2017. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS
Democratic Senator from Illinois Tammy Duckworth (R) speaks at a rally for the Dream Act with a focus on women, families, and the LGBTQ community; on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, USA, Oct. 3, 2017. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Democrats demand solution to plight of Dreamers

Five Democratic senators joined activists for a rally here Tuesday to urge the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a law protecting the nearly 800,000…

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Five Democratic senators joined activists for a rally here Tuesday to urge the Republican-controlled Congress to pass a law protecting the nearly 800,000 undocumented youths - known as "Dreamers" - who benefited from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, scrapped last month by President Donald Trump.

The president announced that he would formally end DACA, which was launched in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama, next March, a delay he said was meant to give Congress time to pass a law addressing the situation of the Dreamers.

Speakers at the event outside the Capitol included California Sen. Kamala Harris, herself the daughter of a Jamaican-born father and a mother who emigrated to the United States from India.

She began by criticizing the Trump administration's decision to set an Oct. 5 deadline for DACA beneficiaries wishing to renew their status for another two years to submit all of the necessary paperwork and pay the required $500 fee.

Having originally sought an across-the-board extension for all DACA recipients, Harris and other Democratic lawmakers later asked that the deadline be put off at least for Dreamers living in hurricane-stricken Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

The administration, however, said it will only consider an extension for residents of Puerto Rico, a stance that Harris said officials described as "compassionate."

"It's compassionate to say they'll extend the deadline for the 160,000 DACA recipients who are in Florida and Texas, that's compassionate. It's compassionate to pass a clean Dream Act. That's compassion," the California senator said.

"And it is compassionate to say that ultimately we will pass comprehensive immigration reform and allow the 11 million plus people that are living in our country, allow them a path toward citizenship. Because right now, they are in a state of limbo," Harris said.

The Dream Act would extend the existing DACA protections to cover as many as 1.8 million undocumented young people and Democrats are insisting that Congress vote on a "clean" bill - in other words, a measure not laden with amendments such as funding for Trump's planned wall on the US-Mexico border.

Four other female Democratic senators, Amy Klobuchar (Minnesota), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Tammy Duckworth (Illinois) and Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), also spoke at the event, along with Cristina Jimenez, executive director of the immigrants rights group United We Dream.

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