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Dolores Huerta: Build a Wall of Resistance Against Trump Ending DACA

Web ExclusiveSeptember 01, 2017
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President Trump is expected to decide the fate of the immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, threatening to overturn the Obama-era program that protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Fox News, Reuters and McClatchy all reported Thursday that Trump will end DACA, citing an unnamed senior administration official who said the U.S. will let DACA recipients remain in the U.S. for up to two years until their work permits expire. But at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted the president has not yet come to a decision. Immigrant rights groups and their allies have pledged mass mobilizations in response to any move to cancel DACA. We get response from Dolores Huerta, legendary civil rights activist and co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez, now president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for community organizing.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. President Trump is expected to decide the fate of the immigration policy known as DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood [Arrivals], threatening to overturn the Obama-era program that protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. Fox News, Reuters, McClatchy all reported Thursday that Trump will end DACA, citing an unnamed senior administration official who said the U.S. will let DACA recipients remain in the U.S. for up to two years until their work permits expire. But at the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted the president has not yet come to a decision.

Immigrant rights groups and their allies have pledged mass mobilizations in response to any move to cancel DACA. Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington tweeted Thursday, "Dear @realDonaldTrump, If you end DACA, we will make your life impossible. Signed, The 5 million who marched on January 21st. #DefendDACA."

For more, we’re joined by Dolores Huerta, the legendary civil rights activist, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America. She’s president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation for community organizing.

It’s great to have you with us, Dolores. Your response to the president’s imminent decision?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, I think he’s breaking his word, because initially he had said that he was not going to touch DACA, that he was going to let that remain on the books, the way that President Obama, you know, was able to make that decision to allow these young people to stay in the United States, because this is the only country that they ever knew. Many of them were brought here as—or most of them or all of them were brought here as children and were raised in the United States, and many did not even know that they were not citizens. So, we are hoping that he will go back to his earlier statements that he made when he first got elected, that he was going to let DACA remain.

Yeah, these young people are innocent, basically. You know, they didn’t know that they were not here in the country legally, so to speak. And so, we hope that, you know, he will not—and, you know, to add this after that he pardoned Joe Arpaio for breaking the law and, you know, for breaking a court order and for abusive treatment of Latinos in the state of Arizona, this would just be, you know, putting more fuel on the fire, in terms of the Latino community. He has this obsession, for some reason, with the Latino community. And we hope that somehow he will just realize that—why punish these young folks, you know, who are completely innocent?

AMY GOODMAN: You know, he has a deadline, apparently, of September 5th, when 10 attorneys general will sue the Trump administration. One of the engines of this is the Texas delegation and the Texas attorney general—its major city, Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country, underwater right now. What it’s going to take to rebuild this city, the number of immigrants who live there—I believe 85,000 recipients of DACA are in the greater Houston area. Can you talk about this, in this time of this massive crisis?

DOLORES HUERTA: Yes. I think that the president’s job is really to protect, you know, the safety of all of the residents of this country, especially those that are in this imminent danger that they now have in the flooding. So, you know, we have one disaster here when it comes to the flooding in Houston. Why create another disaster for all of the young people that are under the DACA program? And they’re really a great contribution to the United States of America, because with their knowledge and—I mean, the amount of wealth, that can bring social capital, and not only that, but in future tax—tax earnings that they will bring to the country is immense. You know, it’s in the millions of dollars. So, you know, this is kind of a regression. And it’s something that’s going to hurt everybody.

AMY GOODMAN: Fitting this into a bigger picture of Donald Trump when it comes to immigration, he has said he’s willing to shut down the government over the wall on the border, has just, I think, contracted with four firms to make a prototype of that wall, willing to shut down the government over the wall that he said Mexico would pay for, now demanding that Congress pay for it. How does that fit into this picture?

DOLORES HUERTA: Well, again, this shows that he has some kind of an obsession against Latinos, against Mexico and Mexicans in particular, which doesn’t make any kind of sense, as Mexico is one of our biggest trading partners that we have in the United States. And when you treat your neighbor, the country that’s closest to you, Mexico, in that fashion, what does it say to you about being a leader of the free world? And then to threaten to shut down the government, I mean, it is absurd, I think, and ridiculous that somebody would even think that way, that he’s going to jeopardize the economic health of the whole United States of America just to keep a promise, an idiotic promise, that he made about building this wall. It’s ridiculous.

AMY GOODMAN: Dolores, there’s a new film out about you, and we’re going to talk about that with you in Part 2 of our conversation. But you are a legendary organizer, co-founder of the United Farm Workers. You have been dealing with many presidents over the years. How does President Trump compare when it comes to attitudes toward farmworkers, to people who come up over the border, and the kind of work that they provide?

DOLORES HUERTA: I think he is completely ignorant of the conditions of farmworkers. One of the pesticides that he took off of the restricted list just ended up poisoning a hundred farmworkers in Bakersfield a couple of months ago. And so he is, obviously, completely, completely out of touch with what’s going on in our agricultural fields all over the United States. And not only that, but I think all workers now are going to be suffering under the Donald Trump administration.

And one of the things that we do hope is, we do invite people to come and see the film Dolores, which is the name of the film, because it will show how farmworkers, who were the most discriminated people in the country, were able to overcome the presidency of Richard Nixon, Governor Ronald Reagan and all of these great powers, the Farm Bureau Federation, that were against the farmworkers having bathrooms in the fields, cold drinking water, relief periods, the right to organize in the state of California. And yet, with the help of the American public, who supported the boycotts that we had of the grapes and the lettuce, we were able to overcome. And I think that’s a message that we want the film to bring to people, not to give up hope.

But we know that if we collectively organize, that we can really resist. And I know, with the presidential—I mean, with the—excuse me, the congressional elections that are coming up in 2018, we hope that it will inspire people to get engaged and to register to vote, you know. And if you haven’t become a citizen yet, please do so, because if people file their citizenship papers now, they will be able to vote in 2018, because the Congress can counter many of the policies that the—Donald Trump is trying to roll back, many of the things that we won back in the—you know, in the last couple of few decades. And I think that we can really make our democracy stronger. We’ve got to—the wall that we have to build is the wall of resistance, and I believe that the Congress is one of the ways that we can build that wall of resistance. And so, we do have an opportunity in 2018, but we’ve got to start organizing for that now. And hopefully the film Dolores will inspire people to get engaged at the local level.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s legendary organizer Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, has been organizing for decades. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

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