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Americans Want the Bipartisan Dream Act, Not Partisan Obstacles

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Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s October 3, 2017 hearing on the Administration’s decision to end DACA.  

The President’s decision to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, plunged 800,000 young Americans into crisis. The solution is the bipartisan Dream Act. It’s urgent that Congress act, without undue delay and without unnecessary complications.   

Dreamers are young Americans, and the American people want Congress to enact legislation that finally and formally recognizes this fact. Unfortunately, S. 1852, legislation introduced by Republican Senators Tillis and Lankford, falls far short of meeting this test. The solution that’s teed up and ready to pass is the bipartisan Dream Act, S. 1615.  

It is foundational in the U.S. immigration system that those admitted be treated equitably and be given a chance to become U.S. citizens within three to five years, with all the rights and responsibilities that citizenship entails. But the Tillis-Lankford bill includes a number of disturbing provisions. It requires eligible Dreamers to wait nearly two decades before being eligible for citizenship. It excludes the oldest Dreamers—those who have lived here the longest—entirely. It makes it difficult for Dreamers to sponsor their loved ones under the legal immigration system.

Moreover, the bill requires Dreamers to sign away their future legal rights to contest a potential deportation.  This undermines the most fundamental due process principles by forcing Dreamers—at the front end of their application process—to relinquish their right to any form of relief at a hearing before a fair and impartial immigration judge.  None of these provisions are applied to other groups of immigrants.

There is a national consensus on support for providing a path to citizenship like the Dream Act.  On September 28, 2017, Fox News released polling that confirms that an overwhelming majority of the American people — from across the political spectrum — agree that Dreamers should be provided a path to citizenship. This includes nearly two-thirds of Trump supporters.

Here is an excerpt from the Fox News report:

“Today, overwhelming majorities favor granting work permits (86 percent favor vs. 12 percent oppose) and U.S. citizenship (79-19 percent) to illegal immigrants under the age of 30 brought here as children, provided they pass a background check.

The poll finds a record-high 83 percent of voters support setting up a system for all illegal immigrants who are currently working in the country to become legal residents, up nine points since last year. Just 14 percent say “deport as many as possible,” down from a high of 30 percent in July 2015.

There is rare partisan agreement on all fronts.

Democrats (66 percent), Republicans (60 percent) and independents (59 percent) all agree it is important Congress work on Dreamer legislation. Partisans are also in sync on granting work permits and U.S. citizenship to these individuals, as majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents favor both actions.

Moreover, 63 percent of Trump voters favor granting Dreamers citizenship.”

The poll doesn’t say Americans support citizenship for Dreamers “only if it takes two decades to achieve.” It doesn’t say Americans support citizenship for Dreamers “only if it’s coupled with extraneous enforcement measures.” It says they support a path to citizenship, full stop.  

The bipartisan Dream Act, sponsored by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and Representatives Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), would pass both chambers tomorrow if brought to a vote. The only thing needed is the political will among those who control the congressional floor schedule to schedule it.

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

America’s Voice Education Fund – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform