WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers hosted a press conference with evangelical leaders Thursday to highlight the plight of Dreamers, the roughly 800,000 people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children – and are at risk of being deported without immediate action from Congress.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi opened the presser acknowledging Dreamers as a crucial part of the nation's future.
"We're proud to be with our Dreamers who make America more American with the hope, the determination, the optimism, the insistence on making the future better for the next generation," she said.
Watch the full press conference below:
Elias Rosenfelt, a 20-year-old Boston college student, is one of the nearly one million Dreamers hoping for a better future.
"Come August, my DACA status expires," he told those gathered at Thursday's press conference. "My life is thrust into imminent chaos as my education is in jeopardy, but also because someone like myself could be detained and deported to a country I do not even call home."
"It means going back to a country where I do not even command the native language and a city which is now categorized as the deadliest in the world," he said. "Without congressional action, I will become a priority for deportation, along with 800,000 DACA recipients like myself, who for all intents and purposes are Americans in every single way."
The press conference comes as lawmakers struggle to agree on a stopgap funding bill that would avoid a government shutdown. Democrats have threatened to reject any measure that doesn't extend protections for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Speaking at Thursday's press conference, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, stressed the importance of prioritizing Dreamers.
"We can't continue to play politics with 800,000 human beings created in the image of God. It's morally reprehensible," he charged. "Let's not sacrifice 800,000 human beings on the altar of the wall."
Earlier, Rodriguez told CBN News, "I am convinced, by the way, that President Trump wants a deal done."
"We have to come to the table of compromise," he continued. "We can do this – avoid the shutdown and sign a deal that would lead inevitably to comprehensive immigration reform."