A DREAMER MOVES ON FROM DEFAZIO
By Jesus Narvaez
In 1992, I was born in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, and my parents brought me as a child to the United States to make a better life for our family.
Today I am a graduate of South Eugene High School, a senior at the University of Oregon, and I am a Dreamer, one of up to 3.6 million people brought to the United States as children, who are fighting for citizenship in the only country we have ever known. As the 2020 election approaches, and Republicans vow to deport me and my neighbors, and as Democrats head out on the campaign trail, people often ask me who I consider a champion for Dreamers and the immigrant community. My response is: someone willing to listen, and take a stand with us. Our 33-year incumbent congressman is not that champion.
In 2018, I stood next to Rep. Peter DeFazio at the State of the Union Address in our nation’s capital, and I began to realize that he invited me there to create an image of being a champion for Dreamers that he doesn’t deserve. Time and time again, he has voted to criminalize people like me and my community. That’s why I’m taking a stand.
In 1996, when I was 4 years old, Defazio voted with Republicans and the “English only” movement of white nationalists of that time on the Immigrant English Proficiency Amendment, and for the Immigration Reform bill of 1996 that beefed up border patrol and criminalized immigration to the U.S.
In 2006, when I was 14, he again sided with Republicans to create the ICE deportation force as we know it today by voting “Yes” on the Immigration Law Enforcement Act, which allowed local law enforcement to act as ICE, fueling racial profiling of Latinx people by local police.
In 2011, when I was 19, DeFazio introduced and championed a bill to verify government data on immigrant workers in order to deport us, known as “mandatory e-verify.” His leadership was celebrated by Numbers USA. DeFazio’s mandatory e-verify bill was defeated because most Democrats would not support it.
Most recently, in 2017, DeFazio was one of only 24 House Democrats to vote with Republicans for a Trump-backed bill that whipped up anti-immigrant racism to criminalize undocumented entry. The so-called “Kate’s Law” is opposed by the ACLU as it would put undocumented entrants in prison for up to 10 years. For families like mine, this is a slap in the face from DeFazio at a time when Trump’s deportation forces are separating families.
Now, when faced with running against Doyle Canning, the first viable Democratic primary challenger DeFazio has ever had in his 33 years in office, he suddenly schedules a press conference to tout his championship for Dreamers. Enough is enough. My community will not stand by a representative who has voted to lock us up as criminals. We need change, and we need a champion.
It is time to take a stand, to vote for Doyle Canning, who has been an ally in the fight with immigrant communities against wage theft and abuses of farmworkers, day laborers, and domestic workers. She has taken a stand against “show me your papers” laws in Arizona and Georgia, and fought with communities against the escalation of ICE’s collaboration with local law enforcement that encourages racial profiling.
Canning has pledged that if elected, she will work to close the camps at the border, reunite families and hold Trump’s agents accountable for abuse and mistreatment of immigrants and asylum seekers. She will support immigration reform that treats my community with dignity and respect and work with us to find ways forward.
When people ask me who would be a champion for Dreamers, I tell them that it is time for the 4th Congressional District to have a new face in D.C. Someone who works with the community to make sure their worries, and dreams, are heard in the halls of Washington. I tell them to take a stand: on May 19, 2020, vote for Canning for Congress because, as a Dreamer, I can’t.
There will be a press event at 12 p.m. today at Harris Hall, 125 E. 8th Ave.
Jesus Narvaez is a Dreamer, a senior at the University of Oregon and has been a leader in movements for human rights and immigrants rights. He has advised Doyle Canning on how to help the immigrant community and has spoken at her events.