Bates College students tell Susan Collins to fight for 'Dreamers'

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LEWISTON — Four Bates College students sat beside the counter in U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ office Monday as part of nationwide effort to press members of Congress to approve legal status to young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

“We’re not too threatening,” senior Courtney Foster said.

As junior Haley Crim and first-year student Muskan Verma each livestreamed their effort to a smattering of online watchers across the land, the students sang Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” while sneaking peeks at the lyrics on other phones.

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Sophomore Kati Cabral, whose family came to the United States from the Dominican Republic, said it’s devastating that a country created by immigrants is “turning its back” on 800,000 young people who signed up for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that offered them a semblance of legal status.

President Donald Trump has pulled the plug on DACA. Some of the people who relied on it could be deported as soon as May.

Cabral called it “an attack on youth” that goes against America’s core values.

As she spoke, Crim noted that people were watching her from as far as California.

“We’re getting so many hearts floating across the screen,” she said, thrilled that Democracy Now was sharing her feed for a time.

The students were welcomed by Collins’ staff and invited to fill out forms outlining their concerns so the senator could read them later. Verma said the folks working for Collins were “very nice and supportive.”

The students said Collins ought to make sure there is help for the Dreamers in the emergency spending bill that Congress has to pass this week to avoid a government shutdown.

Crim said it is “totally unjust” for all those young people to have to worry any longer about their fate.

Collins, who opposes efforts to deport ‘Dreamers,’ said Monday she hopes Congress can pass a fix that will relieve the fears of Dreamers this month. But, she said, it’s unlikely to be done as part of a budget measure.

The senator said she thinks there is a bipartisan consensus to act, especially given that U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., got a promise from leaders to take up the issue soon.

“I don’t think it’s fair to cast a shadow” over the lives of young people, Collins said.

Collins said they need “to have their fear relieved” that they could be “rounded up and deported” from the only country they’ve ever known.

Though the atmosphere in the senator’s office Monday was more mild than mad, the students were serious in their intent to prod Collins to join colleagues who are trying to throw a lifeline to DACA participants whose legal status to stay in the country may soon be in real jeopardy.

Crim said the immigrants “are as American as everyone else. They just don’t have the right papers.”

She said people brought to the U.S. as minors had no say in where they were going to live. They grew up attending American schools, absorbing American values and dreaming American dreams, the students said.

“They’re some of the most productive and dynamic people,” Foster said.

She said it’s too bad that so many Americans are willing to stereotype immigrants who in reality “are not so different” from everybody else.

Cabral said they only “need equal opportunity to pursue a dream within the United States” to make big contributions to the nation.

Some of the offices of other senators across the country also faced protests Monday or will see demonstrators at their doors this week, organizers said.

Our Dream, which is coordinating the protests, said on its website that sit-ins “can pressure Democrats — and Republicans who say they care about Dreamers — to vote NO on any spending bill that does not include the Dream Act.”

“We can win this — IF hundreds of us sit-in and take over the offices of representatives and senators across the country to demand they make a choice: stand with Dreamers or stand by as 800,000 young immigrants are deported,” it said.

Verma said it was “really cool to be here and part of an action” reaching into so many offices.

Unlike some of the other protests, however, the Bates students had no intention of pushing their occupation beyond office hours.

They said they would leave when Collins’ office closed for the day rather than risk arrests that could get in the way of jobs and opportunities down the line.

scollins@sunjournal.com

Four Bates College students sit in the Lewiston office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Monday afternoon. Haley Crim, left, and Muskan Verma, right, live broadcast themselves and others reading statements and talking about why they were there. Also photographed are Courtney Foster, second from left, and Kati Cabral, third from left. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Four Bates College students sit in the Lewiston office of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Monday afternoon. Haley Crim, left, and Muskan Verma, right, live broadcast themselves and others reading statements and talking about why they were there. Also photographed are Courtney Foster, second from left, and Kati Cabral, third from left. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ state office representative Carlene Tremblay, top, talks with four Bates College students during their Monday afternoon sit-in at the senator’s Lewiston office. Sitting, from left, are Haley Crim, Courtney Foster, Kati Cabral and Muskan Verma. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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  • Eunice Richards

    One in four American citizens unemployed. 40,000 veterans homeless and unemployed. But this is the priority? Why a “clean” Dream act? why do you oppose border security? Because they (DACA / Illegal alien activists) want more crossing the border illegally.

    DACA is just like the TPS program (Temporary Protective Status) the goal for Democrats is
    permanent placement in the U.S. “Delayed” or “Temporary” are just terms used to mislead. These are programs used by Democrats to import as many refugees from the third world as they can then fight to keep them permanently. .So their answer is pass a “Dream act” legalize millions of illegal aliens (DACA.) But they don’t want to separate families….. so add another 1-2 million. Same with theTPS program.

    “Some” of the costs associated with illegal immigration.

    *The cost of educating illegal aliens children is staggering. From K-12 it costs taxpayers $122,000 for EACH illegal alien student. This doesn’t even reflect the millions and millions of dollars spent on bilingual education teaching illegal aliens to read and speak English. We’ve been paying this for decades

    *Currently state officials are appropriating millions of taxpayer dollars for legal fees to to file
    law suits and in defense of illegal aliens being deported. California, Oregon, NY, Wash, Colorado are just some of the states.

    *2012 illegal aliens sent home $62 BILLION in remittances back to their countries of origin. This is why Mexico is getting involved in our politics.

    *30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens. Does not include local jails and State Prisons. At $21,000 per year expense per inmate in Federal Prison—U do the math.

    *$3Million Dollars a DAY is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.

    *$2.2Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as SNAP (food stamps),WIC, & free school lunches.

    There is an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients in the US. That is 800,000 jobs American Citizens don’t have or will be in competition for.The MSM and Democrats would have us believe that all 800 thousand DACA and TPS are not taking jobs Americans want (we’ve heard that lie for many years now.) There not all picking strawberries they take great Jobs. Good
    enough jobs to buy homes put their kids through college.

    So when you hear of the “contributions by illegal aliens paying taxes.” Remember that also is at a cost in jobs citizens should have. Why must the citizens of our country have competition for jobs, education in their own country from foreign nationals? Now Democrats and illegal
    alien activists admit DACA recipients have great jobs,are buying homes, paying taxes.

    Democrats,MSM, every faculty member at any university in the country fighting to the death for illegal aliens?they put a warm and fuzzy name on it “Dreamers.”Democrats have actually
    changed the language. It’s not illegal alien anymore its “Immigrant.” They’re not adults, they are “Kids” or “children.” and no one seem to wonder why this obsession? future voters?

  • FrankE

    As much as I feel for the dreamers, I am way more concerned for the residents of Maine. In the past week Susan Collins has done a severe injustice to the people of Maine by supporting a bill that will only hurt eighty percent of our population. I guess she swallowed Trumps folksy hucksters sales pitch. If there’s one thing I can say about Trump, he’s a terrific salesman. Unfortunately Collins fell for Trumps phony lies.
    I don’t know exactly what she thinks she gained but what we lost is affordable health care. We will also need to pay for the 1.4 trillion dollars added to the deficit, the House Republicans have already hinted at SSDI as the source of that relief. You can bet that whatever is used to cover the added debt it will come from us poor folks. I honestly feel the only sane voice in politics we have left is Bernie Sanders
    As for the dreamers, whats happening to them is atrocious, Unfortunately we have a mental case running things and even though his grandparents were immigrants, no one else should be let in. He won’t change his views no matter how hard you press Collins. She has shown that she’s a Trump supporter now.
    The only hope for us, the dreamers and the democratic principal is to impeach Trump and most of his cabinet. Rich people have little regard for anyone other than themselves…………….

    • tyler cooper

      nd no one said a word when Obama doubled the debt….oh and you can keep your Doctor.

      • FrankE

        Maybe we’re calling the wrong people Dreamers. From reading your comment regarding a list of falsehoods, I wonder just who the dreamers are. I realize your a diehard conservative but given the four examples of what I’m assuming you think Trump is responsible for, I can only assume your less than up to date on political issues…………………..

  • Arsene Lupin

    The Dreamers need to pressure the Democrats to make a deal to save them from deportation. They need to let go of the fantasy of wide open borders and having every distant relative immediately move to the US. Their parents and the US screwed them out of the life they were supposed to be living in their native countries. Time to pass a law that prevents this situation from ever happening again.

  • tasam1

    The DACA program is only a small portion of the number of illegal aliens that will become the majority of voters in the US. Congressional officials didn’t discuss the future ramifications on jobs, environmental effects, etc. on that many more people in the US. Ask the taxpayers what they think another 40 million illegal aliens that become citizens will do to the economy and their children and grandchildren’s future employment in competition with the 20-36 year old DACAs and other illegal aliens. Only 32,000 out of 800,000 DACAs have a four year college degree. From federal information – 160,000 DACAs dropped out of school. Another 160,000 have a high school diploma or a GED but no plans to go to college. President Trump ended DACA Sept. 5. Time to start deporting the illegal aliens.

  • tasam1

    The majority of illegal alien DACAs aren’t college students.

    From the Daily Signal –
    “DACA had no requirement of English fluency either. In fact, the original application requested applicants to answer whether the form had been “read” to the alien by a translator “in a language in which [the applicant is] fluent.”
    The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that “perhaps 24 percent of the DACA-eligible population fall into the functionally illiterate category and another 46 percent have only
    ‘basic’ English ability.”

  • Margret Jenkins

    These four look like morons. I like the last statement, we are going to leave when the office close so we don’t get in trouble and mess up our chances for opportunities later. They are real dedicated to the cause they could have just stayed home.