At UNLV, a billionaire backs Dreamers


By all measures, 23-year-old Mariana is a success story.

She's going for her masters at UNLV. Just one problem:

“We have thought about it. It's something that every undocumented person has some sort of contingency plan. What are we going to do? In case the parents get deported, in case we all get deported, right,” Mariana Sarmiento Hernandez told me as we stood in UNLV's Student Union.

Mariana has lived in Las Vegas since she was one.

She's one of the 13 thousand young people in Nevada covered by President Obama's protections against deportation, protections President Trump is ending, and unless Congress acts, will expire in March.

“It's really devastating to think this won't work out,” Hernandez says.

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It's that prospect that brought a billionaire to UNLV today, standing just feet away from Mariana.

Tom Steyer founded Nextgen America, a movement that organizes young people to vote.

It is progressive, backed by Steyer billions.

Standing in a room packed with students and other activists, Steyer's message was clear: Congress needs to act to protect young people like Mariana from getting kicked out of the only country they know.

“I think the message to elected officials of either party is the same: which is do the right thing,” Steyer says.

Progressives are still seething that Democrats, in their view, caved on the recent government shutdown without getting concrete assurance "Dreamers" will be protected. As of Thursday night, another shutdown looms as both conservatives, worried about a spending bill’s price tag, and liberals, worried about the immigration assurances left out, are balking at passage.

Steyer is telling Democrats: take a stand.

“I think that if you're going to make a point on principle, and stand on it, then you have to stand on it,” he says.

Where dreamers stand now is unclear, which to dreamer Erika Castro, is very hard to take.

“I am definitely worried about it. I think as we get closer to the March 5th deadline the urgency keeps going up and up and up,” Castro says.

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