Nebraskans demand Congress protect immigrant families, communities during nationwide day of action

***For Immediate Release***
March 5, 2018


ContactCooper Christiancy
President, Define American-UNL Chapter
Cell: (402) 419-6972

Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Cell: (402) 840-7289

Nebraskans demand Congress protect immigrant families, communities during nationwide day of action

As DACA deadline arrives, nationwide and statewide actions will urge Congress “Stop Playing Games”


LINCOLN — On Monday, the day of the President’s self-imposed deadline to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Nebraskans gathered across the state to show solidarity with immigrant and refugee families while demanding action from a Congress that has left communities in limbo for months.

These events included a vigil outside the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln and at Omaha’s Memorial Park, where community members gathered to urge Congress to “Stop Playing Games” and protect immigrant youth and families now.

Nearly 3,400 young Nebraskans — commonly known as “Dreamers” — who work, go to school, and have grown up in our communities face imminent threat as Congress has failed to act before the President’s Monday deadline to end their legal protections.

Among the solutions Nebraskans have been calling for is passing the “DREAM Act of 2017,” a bill that would allow Dreamers and people who are similarly situated to continue working, attending school, and leading communities in the only country they know as home while creating a path for them to eventually earn U.S. citizenship.

“Having the DREAM Act passed would not only allow me to work, but eventually pursue a career and continue to give back to my community,” said University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior Joseline Reyna.

“DACA is the reason I have the courage to stand before you today,” said UNL senior Yovana Aliaga Centon “and it has given me a platform to be able to use my voice for minorities who are lacking their human rights to safety, security, their well-being, and happiness.”

“DACA allows me to pursue my education and attain more knowledge,” said UNL sophomore Jorge Marroquin. “The Dream Act would provide opportunities for me and all other Dreamers to achieve great things in the future.”

Reyna, Aliaga, and Marroquin addressed the crowd at the Lincoln vigil at the State Capitol. Reyna and Aliaga also were among a group of four Dreamers who traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to personally appeal to Nebraska’s members of Congress to support the DREAM Act with no further delay.

Nebraska refugee families and families with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) also face uncertainty. The Trump Administration recently announced the end of TPS for Nebraskans from several countries, potentially forcing them to return to countries that are still too dangerous and unstable. Like Dreamers, there is no way for TPS families who have lived and built lives in Nebraska for decades to apply for permanent immigration status until Congress takes action.

“Nebraska Dreamers make a difference every day in our communities as teachers, nurses, and accountants, as neighbors, parents, friends, and colleagues,” Reverend Stephen Griffith said at Monday’s Lincoln vigil. “Immigrant and refugee Nebraskans also face family separation and futures in limbo. It’s time for Congress to take action to keep our communities whole.”

Co-sponsors of the Lincoln and Omaha events include: Define American – UNL Chapter, College of Saint Mary, Heartland Workers Center, Immigrant Legal Center, Nebraska Cattlemen, Omaha Together One Community, Schlegel Center for Service & Justice, Nebraska Appleseed, ACLU of Nebraska, OneWorld Community Health Centers Inc., Refugee Empowerment Center, and many others.

Coinciding with the Lincoln and Omaha vigils, communities across the state and country held actions on March 4 and 5. These included:

  • Columbus: Centro Hispano traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the United We Dream national March 5 rally.
  • Lexington – “We All Belong,” a community gathering with Dreamers documentary screening on March 4.
  • Crete – Screening of “We Are Dreamers” documentary, telling the stories of young Nebraska Dreamers. Monday, March 5, 7:00 p.m., Doane University.

For more information, photos, and interview requests, contact Nebraska Appleseed Communications Director Jeff Sheldon at (402) 438-8853 or email


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