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Last Friday afternoon, on a press call, DREAM Act youth and immigration experts spoke about the legal authority that the President has to halt the jailing and deportation of DREAM Act eligible youth. Speakers provided examples of how President Obama and previous presidents have used similar authority in the past, and DREAMers shared their personal stories and pledged that their communities would hold the President accountable if he continues to refuse to provide this relief.
Less than a week ago, 22 Democratic Senators issued a letter to President Obama in which they wrote that they “would support a grant of deferred action” and other measures to grant relief to qualified DREAM students. The letter also reiterated the senators’ support for the DREAM Act, which passed the House of Representatives and received the majority support of 55 Senators last December. However, it failed to receive the necessary 60 votes (thanks to 5 Democrats and many more Republicans) in the Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster, and millions of DREAMers were denied the opportunity to go to school or serve in the military.
On the call, Tyler Moran, Policy Director at the National Immigration Law Center, spoke about the DREAM Act youth who live in fear of deportation every day:
“These students are Americans at heart and know no other country but the United States. And even though the DREAM Act fell victim to partisan politics last fall, there is still a need for immediate relief to allow these students to contribute to the country they love. The President recognized in his State of the Union that we should stop deporting these young people, so we now join these 22 Senators in asking the President to grant that relief.”
Marshall Fitz, Director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, explained:
“The actions the Senators have requested are entirely within the President’s well-established authority. Every law enforcement agency in the country uses prioritization and discretion when making decisions about how to prioritize their work and allocate resources. The President has the authority to grant relief to an entire class of people, such as the relief that President Obama granted to a group of Liberians, among other examples.
Undocumented youth were also present on the call, and some related how presidential action to halt deportation would positively affect their lives.