September 5, 2017 – The decision today to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) sets a new low for an Administration bent on harming and dehumanizing our fellow immigrants.
In 2012, when Obama provided a temporary reprieve from deportation for our country’s DREAMers – immigrants brought here by their parents as young children – it was life-changing. 800,000 of our country’s DREAMers have been able to work legally, get a social security number, pay taxes, pay in-state college tuition, and in Florida get a much coveted driver’s license. All of this is now at stake.
DREAMers have been forced to weather many a storm over the years, as Congressional efforts to provide them a path to legalization failed. The first DREAM Act was introduced in 2001, and DREAMers have been on an emotional rollercoaster ever since. In 2010, the bipartisan DREAM Act fell just five votes short of passage. In 2013, the bipartisan Senate Immigration Reform bill, which included the DREAM Act, was never brought to the House floor for a vote despite significant support.
When Trump was running for the Presidency, he vowed to end DACA on day one of taking office. After the election, he promised to keep DACA alive for “these amazing kids,” kids who were counting on him to keep his word. But Trump caved after 10 state Attorney Generals threatened to file suit by September 5th unless DACA ends. His Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who doesn’t even support most legal immigration, said he can’t defend DACA if these states sue. Rounding up DREAMers won’t be much of a challenge. Every DACA applicant had to provide immigration officials their current contact information.
AI Justice had the privilege of representing the four Miami-Dade College students who walked 1500 miles, from Miami to Washington, D.C. in 2010, to garner support for the DREAM Act and make the case for comprehensive immigration reform. One of the DREAMers, Felipe Matos, said they decided to undertake this journey despite the potential dangers, telling us, “We are aware of the risks. We are risking our future because our present is unbearable.” Today countless DREAMers across the country are feeling like Felipe – the present seems unbearable.
Passage of a DREAM bill would stop the immense brain drain that occurs when ambitious young people are deported or blocked from achieving their full potential. In 2010 the Congressional Budget Office estimated passage of the DREAM Act would reduce our deficit by $1.4 Billion over ten years. A recent study by the Center for American Progress found that ending DACA would reduce the U.S. GDP by at least $433.4 billion over 10 years.
It’s far past time for Congress to stop the colossal waste of talent that our country can’t afford by enacting legislation that offers immigrant youth a path to permanent legal status. Currently, there are two pending bi-partisan bills, the Recognizing America’s Children Act and the DREAM Act of 2017, which would provide DREAMers a path to citizenship. We urge Democrats and Republicans to step up to the plate and work tirelessly to ensure that these deserving kids can finally pursue their dreams. Countless DREAMers and millions of U.S. citizens are hoping and praying that they will.
Destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of our country’s young residents who have done nothing wrong and everything right is morally reprehensible and just plain stupid.