Congress must provide undocumented people the path to citizenship
are effectively trapped, unable to access a permanent
immigration status, and stuck in a legal limbo
that destabilizes immigrant communities across New
York and our nation.
We share an unbreakable bond born out of our
struggles and determination to follow our dreams.
Monica came to this country at 16, just three months
too late to benefit from DACA’s protections. While she
remains undocumented, she has not been deterred in
her fight for the just and dignified treatment of young
people, women, and immigrants.
Catalina is one of “the lucky ones” who obtained
legal status through marriage, but has never forgotten
the difficulties she faced in accessing critical services
and a college degree.
Through hard work, a network of support and some
luck, we both succeeded despite the system’s failures.
We have been able to advocate for and implement
change, doubling down on our efforts to ensure that
all undocumented immigrants for generations to come
can obtain legal status, instead of being trapped in an
endless cycle of false hope. We’ve worked to pass the
Jose Peralta DREAM Act, offering financial aid to New
York students like us, fought to ensure undocumented
New Yorkers can access driver’s licenses and so much
Considering the contributions of undocumented
immigrants, we firmly believe that it is past time for
Congress to put politics aside and act. People in power
have been debating our future while we watch, wait,
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | JULY 23-JULY 29, 2021 13
BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN CATALINA CRUZ AND MONICA SIBRI
While our government battles over immigration
reform, secure in their status as documented individuals,
we know firsthand what it is like to live in constant
fear of deportation. Despite significant cultural and
economic contributions, undocumented immigrants
in this country face unprecedented difficulty that demands
We are both “Dreamers” – the moniker used to describe
immigrants who came to this country with their
families at a young age. It is beyond troubling, even insulting,
to see our life experiences trivialized and used
as political pawns by those who lack an understanding
of what it’s like to live in the shadows. We are examples
of how the system is flawed, offering only band-aid solutions
to complex problems and attempting to arbitrarily
rewrite our life experiences.
Nine years ago, Congress reached an impasse that
resulted in an executive order establishing the Deferred
Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
to extend deportation protections for certain young immigrants
so they could earn an education, work and
remain in the U.S. safely, expanding their hope for a
Even though certain temporary status programs,
including DACA, opened opportunities for nearly
700,000 young undocumented immigrants, they were
not meant to be a long-term fix. The result left millions
behind due to arbitrary eligibility standards. These individuals
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and worry. We have suffered long enough. Decades of
inaction have resulted in a patchwork of policies that
only worsen an already bad situation. And a ready solution
is at our fingertips.
The American Dream and Promise Act passed the
House with Republican support. A similar bipartisan
bill in the Senate, the Dream Act, would create a
pathway to citizenship for young undocumented immigrants
– a policy supported by 77 percent of Americans.
The passage of this legislation would ensure thousands
of families won’t fear deportation and will finally be
treated with the respect they deserve. We urge Congress
to forward this legislation to the president’s desk,
as it is not only the right thing to do, but it will also be a
much-needed stimulus to the U.S. economy.
Immigrants from all types of economic and cultural
backgrounds – including both of us – are deeply
woven into the fabric of our state and country. We call
on U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to use
any means necessary to ensure individuals and families
can finally access the permanent legal status they
Assemblymember Catalina Cruz was elected in 2018
to represent NY’s 39th Assembly District. A lawyer, she is
the first DREAMer elected to the NYS Legislature. Monica
Sibri is a student at the Graduate School of Political
Management at The George Washington University, a
co-founder of the CUNY Dreamers, and the Development
Advisor at Poder Latinx.