Act Now with the DREAMERS, politically, legally and personally

On September 5th President Trump issued an Executive Order shutting down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program. DACA creates a legal framework to work, serve in the military and attend schools for people who came to the US as children and have grown up here. The more than 800,000 DACA recipients (aka Dreamers) and their families are devastated by this decision. Following an outcry from across the political spectrum, Trump muddied the waters by tweeting that if Congress didn’t act to provide protection against deportation to Dreamers before March 5 he would “revisit” the issue. But while Trump tweets sweet nothings, his administration is busy shutting down the program and preparing to deport Dreamers. Do not be lulled; do not be fooled. The time to act is now.

In 2012 President Obama created DACA through Executive Order when it became apparent that Congress would not pass the DREAM act to protect the futures of undocumented childhood arrivals. Following a scrupulous vetting process that eliminated anyone with a record of criminal or anti-social behavior and that provided the Federal government with significant and detailed personal information, over 800,000 young people from across the country obtained the work authorizations that would protect them from deportation and allow them to attend school, get jobs, buy homes and otherwise move forward with their lives in the US without fear of deportation from the only country most of them knew. Now all of that is threatened by a countermanding Executive Order from President Trump.

The only way to truly protect the Dreamers is through legislation. Immigrant rights groups across the country are urging us to advocate for Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act (not tied to other legislative agenda items). The original DREAM act contained these crucial elements:

  • Permit certain immigrant students (those who have been vetted) who have grown up in the US to apply for temporary legal status and to eventually obtain permanent legal status and become eligible for U.S. citizenship if they graduate from a 2 or 4 year college or serve in the US military; and
  • Eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status.

Passing an updated DREAM act is paramount but it is not all that needs to be done. These are teenagers and young adults who need guidance and support. Outreach to every current Dreamer is essential to insure that those who qualify for renewal of their DACA status before March 5 do so; that each current DACA participant fully understands their rights and options; and that each one has the opportunity to connect to peers and allies (that could be you) who can provide personal and political support until the DREAM Act is passed. 

The Trump Administration is shutting the program down as Congress deliberates. In doing so they have created a crisis of uncertainty for current DACA participants. One sub-group of Dreamers needs to act immediately – the 154,000 current DACA recipients whose permits expire before March 5, 2018 can apply to extend their current permit. The application and the accompanying documents must be filed with the US Citizenship and Immigration Service by October 5, 2017. The renewal fee is $495.

We must also insist that a firewall be created between the personal information provided voluntarily by Dreamers to Homeland Security and the deportation machinery of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It would be a travesty to allow the information that qualified Dreamers for DACA to be used to target them for deportation.

Call To Action

Call ALL your Members of Congress and tell them:

  • Become a co-sponsor of the current DREAM Act and pass it as stand alone legislation immediately. Do not trade the DREAM Act for funding for the border wall, other border enforcement policies, or other Republican legislative priorities.  If they are already a sponsor, thank them!
  • Protect the data provided by DACA recipients from use by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Get the word out.  If you know or work with Dreamers – those who have a current DACA work permit that expires before March 5 – encourage and assist them in filing their request for renewal.  

Use Google to identify your local immigration rights and Dreamers support organizations:

  • Donate to legal clinics serving Dreamers
  • Donate to organizations filing lawsuits to protect Dreamers
  • Volunteer or donate to organizations that are providing personal and political support to Dreamers
  • Show up at a march or rally and be a visible ally to the immigrant community

Limerick of the week

Old man Donald is ruthless, it seems
He enjoys stomping on young folks’ dreams
The man has no heart
We knew that from the start
Being nasty is one of his themes

Diana McKnight