In the midst of recent threats by the president to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, a legislative plan to allow noncitizens to shape policy in local Democratic Party councils was announced at the Women’s Building on Friday afternoon.
Introduced by State Sen. Scott Wiener, Senate Bill 288 would allow undocumented immigrants to serve as delegates and to run for Democratic Party County Central Committees in California.
“Immigrants should absolutely advocate to the Democratic party for change, but immigrants should be able to formally participate and help lead the Democratic party from the inside for change,” said Wiener.
Earlier in the year, San Francisco’s Democratic Party chair, David Campos, made history when he appointed a DACA recipient, Sarah Souza, to its central committee.
If the Senate bill is passed, other DREAMers would have the opportunity to follow in her footsteps.
While Souza was notably absent, her sister, Adriana Souza, also a Dreamer, spoke on her behalf.
But first she took a moment, as did other community leaders, to honor the memories of a migrant father and his 23-month-old daughter who drowned on the banks of the Rio Grande River attempting to fulfill dreams of their own.
“[My sister] wants to pave the way so that other immigrants have the opportunity to represent themselves,” she said.
Assemblyman David Chiu, who co-authored the bill, shared a similar sentiment.
“We need our immigrant communities to help lift up our political process,” he said. “We need to ensure that we uplift all.”
After the press conference, Wiener shared with Mission Local that the Senate bill is scheduled to be heard this Wednesday before the Assembly Elections Committee, but that it’s possible it will be heard in August instead.
“We’re working with the committee now to make sure it’s correct and fleshed out,” he explained.
The law, incidentally, only applies to Democratic Party committees (not that there’s a surfeit of GOP DREAMers). When asked why, Wiener replied, “Because the Democratic Party wants to do this.”
Either way, if everything goes to plan, the bill will come up for a vote in the Assembly in late August, where it will then go back for a vote in the Senate, and potentially sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom by September 13.
Wiener added that there’s always concern about creating a public list of who is undocumented, so he is working toward informing would-be candidates how the process works if they decide to run.
“Of course every person will make a decision for themselves about what risk they’re willing to take,” he said, “but we think it’s important to give immigrants an opportunity to participate in whatever way they are comfortable participating.”