Photos by Patricia Williams
February 1, 2018: “The deportation clock is ticking on hundreds of thousands of young people who know no other country,” said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. About 1,000 work permits a day will expire beginning on March 5, and all protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be stripped away on a rolling basis over the next 2-1/2 years. With this looming deadline threatening, more than 60 STF student leaders, teachers and special guests gathered for the 2018 Winter Leadership Workshop to reaffirm their commitment to protecting the human rights of DACA recipients and to determine the next steps for emergency actions.
Participants reviewed their fall efforts to encourage Congressional leaders to pass a clean DREAM Act, sending hundreds of petition signatures to Congress members Steve Knight, Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan and Chuck Schumer. Students also learned that Congressman Knight’s staff did not allow STFers dropping off their petitions to enter Knight’s office. They were only allowed to deliver their petitions in the hallway. Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s staff “Refused to accept/Refused delivery” of STF petitions sent by FedEx to the Speaker’s office and instead “Returned to sender” with the refusal stamps. STF will resend the petitions to Speaker Ryan via email and FedEx accompanied by a photo of STF workshop participants holding his original refusal.
After planning new strategies to protect DACA, the audience reviewed resources available for Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in April. HRW Film Club Chairwoman and STF supporter Susi Bahat spoke about her family’s experience in the Holocaust. Susi was the daughter of Holocaust survivors living in Germany and that experience living among many perpetrators inspired her to fight against human rights abuses. Her family’s story is the focus of the film “Jealous of the Birds.” STF chapters will focus on genocide prevention beginning in March.