A New York teen has gone viral for grilling her congressman over his mixed record regarding legislation that would protect undocumented immigrants.
Rep. Dan Donovan (R) spoke to voters at Staten Island’s Port Richmond High School on Sunday, during which sophomore Gisele Mendez pressed him to support a “clean” DREAM Act. If passed, the DREAM Act would essentially protect undocumented Americans—aka those who have been protected under DACA, a program that the Trump administration said will expire in March, until now—from deportation if they receive a high school diploma and go to college or serve in the armed forces.
Donovan, like many conservatives in Congress, wants to water down the act by adding additional funding for things like greater border security. Meanwhile, Mendez, who is an activist with Latinx rights organization Make the Road, thinks the DREAM Act should be “clean,” or stripped down to its core concern: protecting Dreamers from deportation.
Mendez herself comes from an immigrant family, and her sister is protected under DACA. So on Sunday, she delivered Donovan a petition signed by thousands of Staten Island residents, requesting him to support a clean DREAM Act. Donovan responded to Mendez’s plea by mansplaining the DREAM Act’s congressional process to her. But that only fired her up further.
“When we do get enough supporters and voters in Congress then, you’re going to be one of those that say no?” Mendez asked Donovan.
“I am going to be someone who supports DACA and border security,” he said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”
“It’s a yes or no question sir,” Mendez pressed.
Immigrant Youth deliver 2K petitions in support of the #CleanDreamAct to Congressman Dan DonovanPosted by Make the Road New York on Sunday, November 19, 2017
Mendez not just called out Donovan and went viral for it, but she also got extra credit for doing so while wearing Frank Ocean’s iconic Green Box Shop shirt. It read: “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?”
Frank. pic.twitter.com/1X7KpyLaXE— deray (@deray) July 29, 2017
Mendez joins a much larger national dialogue about to protect young immigrants as the fate of DACA recipients, and the DREAM Act, remain unknown.