By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
As part of its Hot Topics Speaker Series, Pacific Palisades Democratic Club invited community members to learn about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from Elias Rosenfeld, a Jewish Dreamer (DACA recipient) and activist from Venezuela, on Sunday, June 27.
“We’re all here because we’re all concerned about the state of immigration in our country,” PPDC President Steve Cron said. “We’re all way too aware of the separations at the border … and refugees being turned away. I think all of us are here because we want to learn more about the experience being a DACA recipient and what lawyers are doing to help those people in need.”
Cron said Rosenfeld came from Venezuela to the United States when he was 6 years old with his mother and sister. Now, he is a student and a Dreamer who has met with over 300 members of Congress and spoken at over 150 synagogues across the country to share his story.
Rosenfeld said he fled Venezuela during a time of heavy anti-semitisim: Synagogues were consistently vandalized, and members of the Jewish community were being kidnapped and persecuted. His mother came to the States under a visa that would have eventually allowed her to get a Green Card and a pathway to citizenship, but she died when Rosenfeld was 12 years old of kidney cancer.
“What that meant was I completely fell out of status because there was no mechanism in place for when a parent like her passes away, and I didn’t know about my status when she passed away,” Rosenfeld explained. “It took the summer of eighth grade … I went to apply for a learner’s permit at the DMV, and it wasn’t even that I got approved or rejected, I couldn’t even simply apply.
“That very … moment launched me into policy and advocacy at a very young age.”
Rosenfeld said he was one of the youngest Dreamers in 2012 pressuring the Obama Administration and Senate to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and when that failed, he began to pressure the Obama Administration to pass the DACA program. DACA was eventually passed, and granted individuals work permits, social security numbers and deferred deportation status.
“It ultimately changed the lives of 800,000 people like myself … when DACA was passed,” Rosenfeld said. “It incredibly changed my life because it allowed me to get internships that I couldn’t previously acquire, it allowed me to get employment.”
Since then, he has been advocating for Dreamers and comprehensive immigration reform, sharing his story and what it has been like to live an undocumented life.
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, the first Latino senator, made a pre-recorded video appearance during the event. Lauren Connell, a lawyer who specializes in rights of immigrants and refugees, also joined the event for the Q&A portion.
PPDC concluded by inviting attendees to its first in-person event in more than a year, a Garden Party on Sunday, August 29, which will take place in the Riviera.
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