A Congressman Didn't Answer This Teen's Dream Act Question Directly. She Didn't Let Up.

"I want to personally hand this to you so you would know Staten Island … does not support having to see families like mine ripped apart."

Several members of Congress have already held, or will hold town halls in the coming weeks to hear from constituents about the GOP tax plan, health care, and a myriad of other issues. At one such town hall in Staten Island earlier this month, congressman Dan Donovan — a Republican representative from New York — took questions from the people he was elected to represent inside of a local school gym.

During the town hall, which attracted about 200 people according to HuffPost, a young woman named Giselle Mendez asked Donovan if he would be supporting a clean Dream Act. With the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — an Obama-era initiative that has made it possible for nearly 800,000 undocumented children of immigrants to live, work, go to school, or serve in the American military without fear of deportation — set to expire in March 2018 thanks to the current administration's earlier choice to rescind it, DACA recipients and their advocates are pressuring Congress to pass legislation that would permanently protect them. Said law would be known as the Dream Act, and a "clean" Dream Act means the legislation will be passed without concessions elsewhere, such as funding for the controversial border wall or expanding immigrant detention.

Mendez, who identified herself as a sophomore at Port Richmond High School in Staten Island and a youth leader with Make The Road New York, an organization that fights for Latinx and immigrant rights, told Donovan she and many others have talked to people in his district about the importance of a clean Dream Act, and obtained thousands of signatures in support of the effort.

The teen, who became emotional at times, revealed her parents are immigrants and said she has an older sister who is a DACA recipient. To that end, she hand-delivered the box full of signed petitions in favor of a clean Dream Act to Donovan, and asked him point-blank if he would support such legislation. "I want to personally hand this to you so that you would know that Staten Island … does not support having to see families like mine ripped apart," she said, later asking, "Will you vote yes and support us to get this Dream Act passed?"

Many in the room applauded for Mendez, but when the applause died down Donovan did his best to skirt the question. "There will be a fix for DACA," he said, adding "There's not enough votes to get a clean Dream Act."

"I support DACA, but I also support protecting the border, and there's not enough votes in Congress right now to get a clean Dream Act bill passed without attaching some money for some type of border security," he later clarified.

Not satisfied with his response, Mendez once again pushed Donovan for an answer regarding whether or not he intends to support a clean Dream Act. "Will you vote yes?" she asked.

Again, Donovan made it clear he supports secure borders, but still failed to answer how exactly he intends to vote on a clean Dream Act. 

With encouragement from others at the town hall, Mendez continued to push Donovan and asked her question for a third time. 

"A clean Dream Act isn't going to get passed and I won't vote for it because I want border security attached to it," Donovan finally declared. "I want both."

Though many in Congress want a DACA fix and tighter border security like Donovan, there are plenty of politicians also fighting for a clean Dream Act. When thousands protested earlier this month on Capitol Hill to demand a new Dream Act, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Rep. Jim McGovern, and Sen. Martin Heinrich were just a few of the members of Congress advocating for a clean Dream Act. 

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