Democratic Congressman Mark Takano of California’s 41st district, which includes Riverside and Moreno Valley, re-affirmed his support for the immigrant and undocumented community at an event last Thursday.
Speaking at a town hall hosted by Inland Empire nonprofit organizations Mi Familia Vota and the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Takano spoke about his support for DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and his opposition to President Trump.
Takano said: “Most of all, I want you to know that my congressional office is here to help you. We can’t always, especially in these times, do everything to stop the consequences of this administration. But we are friends and we are allies, and we will try to support you in the way that we can.”
Takano referenced a recent study by the Center for American Progress that found that ending the DACA program, which shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation and grants them a work permit, would cost the state of California around 11$ billion.
Rep. Takano was part of an open letter from House Democrats to President Trump in early August, urging the president to oppose litigation from the state of Texas that could challenge DACA.
Most of Thursday’s event involved Takano taking questions from the audience.
Dalila Valdez is a DACA recipient studying Public Policy at UC Riverside. She says she’s worried about what could happen if DACA were to end.
“One of my biggest concerns is how is this going to impact my life, how is this going to impact the work that I do in the community?”
Takano described the legal challenges to DACA currently taking place in Texas courts, and doubted the Trump Administration would take action to defend DACA recipients.
There were some heated moments in the town hall as well. One man, who kept his name anonymous, brought up the recent spike in deportation raids in Riverside and questioned why Latinos should continue to support Democrats.
“Every morning here in Riverside, these are decent mothers and fathers who are being torn away from their children. I guess my question is why should Latinos back up the Democrats? How many thousands of people are going to be deported before something really gets done effectively?”
Takano responded that the Democrats are still the party that is giving the most energy towards protecting undocumented people – but that there’s not much they can get done in Congress while Republicans hold the majority. He also told the story of how an immigration reform bill almost passed in 2013, but was blocked by House Republicans.
The congressman said that change in the immigration system will depend on both public engagements in the issue and getting more Democrats into office in the 2018 midterm elections.
Until then, DREAMers and DACA recipients like Valdez are left wondering what will happen.