Full Text of DREAM Team LA’s Response to President Trump’s First Joint Congressional Address


March 1, 2017

DREAM Team Los Angeles’ Response to President Trump’s Joint Congressional Address

Yesterday, President Trump addressed a joint session of congress, discussing immigration among other topics. And, unfortunately for the undocumented community he painted it in the worst possible light.

President Trump could have noted the contributions of immigrants to our country, the Office of the First Lady, or the 64 foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago, but choose instead to note crimes committed by a few. Rather than strengthening ties between the U.S. and Mexico, which supplies labor for jobs that American’s won’t perform, he once again said we will build a wall. Rather than be a party of “family values” he would change family-based migration to merit-based. Thus, in spite of contribution to our nation and economy no amount of merit will allow you to be with your family.

 But most troubling of all is his using the victims of violence to promote the office of Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, (VOICE). Jamiel Shaw, Michael Davis Jr, and Danny Oliver, shot and killed. Yes, we will say their names and sympathize with their families. They suffered violence and the loss of family members. And we empathize with their pain. Because sadly, millions of Americans also know the pain of losing a family member at the hands of violence committed by ICE when they force their way into our homes and take away fathers, mothers, our children, never to be seen again. Will these victims of this immigration crime engagement be able to use this office too? All violence must end. No one should ever suffer the loss of a family member. Not one more. Jamiel Shaw, Michael Davis Jr, and Danny Oliver. We say their names, and remember them. But, President Trump will you say the following names?

Brisenia Flores. Brisenia is a victim of immigration crime engagement. A group of “minutemen” broke into their home in Arizona who decided her family were immigrants and they would take immigration crime engagement into their own hands, murdering the family looking for cash and weapons. We know that 9 year-old Brisenia Flores tearfully begged for her life before she was shot and killed because her mother, faking her own death, witnessed it. Say her name, President Trump. Bresenia Ylianna Flores.

Balbir Singh Sodhi is a member of the Sikh community whose men wear turbans as an outward display of their peaceful religion. In Mesa, Arizona he was gunned down in what is considered the first revenge killing in the name of 9/11. Another victim of self appointed immigration crime engagement. Will your office represent him? Say his name, President Trump. Balbir Singh Sodhi.

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an engineer working for Garmin in Kansas, was shot and killed by a man saying “get out of my country.” He was in a bar with his friend who was also injured in the shooting. More victims of immigration crime engagement. Say their names, President Trump. Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani.

These crimes highlight, what dozens of studies have shown, that members of the immigrant communities are far more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators. That they are less likely to commit crimes vs. their American born counterparts. And these crimes also highlight the racism and nativism that is motivating the office of VOICE rather than thinly veiled attempts at “law and order”. Brisenia Flores and her family were US citizens. Do we want to tell Americans don’t kill other citizens mistaken for immigrants? Or would we rather tell them “don’t kill”, period.

Balbir Singh Sodhi was a legal immigrant to the US, a member of the Sikh community, not a Muslim. Do we want to educate people on the differences between Sikhs and Muslims? Or shouldn’t we rather educate people that we don’t kill anyone, least of all for their religion?

Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani had legal authorization to work in America. Do we want to tell people that there are a great number of immigrants working in America and the differences between authorized and undocumented labor? Or do we rather tell them we are all workers, don’t kill anyone, least of all for their skin color.

President Trump is continuing a 40 year policy of legal persecution of immigrants created when President Reagan’s Amnesty Bill failed to address future flows of migration. But beyond merit-based migration and pathways to citizenship is the truth that President Trump’s party caters to the worst of nationalism, racism, nativism, xenophobia so that no amount of citizenship or merit-based migration were enough to save the lives of Brisenia Flores, Balbir Singh Sodhi, and Srinivas Kuchibhotla. Say their names, President Trump.