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A Tenacious High School Sophomore Grills Her Congressman As He Dodges A Question About Her Family's Fate

by Penn Collins

November 20, 2017

Gisele Mendez is a high school sophomore represented by Congressman Dan Donavan of New York. During a recent town hall forum, Mendez introduced herself to Donovan as the daughter of immigrants, a youth leader for immigrant rights group Make the Road New York, and the sister of someone protected by the DACA, which Donald Trump stated he wished to end. 

As a member of Congress, Dan Donovan is one of the representatives tasked with voting on new legislation that will decide the fate of Mendez’s family members and millions of others like them. 

Of concern to many Americans is whether Congress will pass a “clean” Dream Act that will continue to protect the children of immigrants without also including border security and immigration reform line items that will serve to tear their families apart in other manners. 

When confronted by Mendez on where his support lies, Donovan played both sides of the issue, claiming to be “in favor of fixing DACA, and ... in favor of securing our borders.” 

That answer didn’t satisfy Mendez, nor many other concerned citizens in attendance. She stated, “I want to personally hand this to you so that you would know that Staten Island … does not support having to see families like mine ripped apart.” 

Upon presenting Donovan thousands of petition signatures, the high schooler pressed her Congressman for a more accountable response.

Below is a transcript (via Jezebel) of the frustrating interaction between the concerned Mendez and the waffling Donovan. 

Congressman Dan Donovan: I support the president’s desire to secure our nation. About a month ago, about nine people died in the back of a van that was brought across our country because they weren’t given any water or air conditioning in that van. And my belief is that if that van had been stopped at the border maybe–I’m not sure when those poor people died–but maybe those people would still be alive today. So I support DACA, but I also support protecting the border. And there’s not enough votes in Congress right now to get a clean DACA–clean Dream Act bill passed without attaching some moneys for some kind of border security.

Gisele Mendez: And if we do get enough voters, will you vote yes?

Donovan: I support the president in securing our borders.

[Audience member: Ask him again!]

Mendez: I’m sorry sir, you need to be a little more specific.

Donovan: I’m in favor of fixing DACA, and I’m also in favor of securing our borders.

Mendez: So that’s a no.

Audience member: Do you support a clean Dream Act?

Mendez: Like I said before, when we do get enough voters and supporters, you’re going to be one of those that say no.

Donovan: I’m going to be someone who supports DACA and border security.

Mendez: It’s a yes or no question sir.

Donovan ended the exchange unable to muster an answer to her straightforward question, much less an acceptable explanation of his stance.

Congressman Donovan’s inability or disinclination to answer an important question may be disheartening to champions of democracy — but, on the bright side, we have Gisele Mendez on our side to give us hope. 

Share image via Make the Road New York/Facebook.

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