tags: Press Releases

As GOP Works to Kill DACA, Candidates Should Make Clear Where They Stand on the Future of Dreamers

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Expected DHS DACA Rule a Reminder that DACA Remains Vulnerable to Republicans’ Full-throttle Attack

Washington, DC – The Biden administration is expected to announce in the near future a new regulation designed to “preserve and fortify” the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The expected DHS rule will come as Republicans are engaged in a full-throttle effort to end DACA and strip protections and opportunities from Dreamers.

  • In the courts, the GOP is trying to end DACA, with the State of Texas challenge to the program recently heard in the Fifth Circuit and a ruling from the conservative panel of judges expected any day now. 
  • In Congress, the Republicans in the Senate are blocking House-passed legislation to make Dreamers full citizens, including by relying on the perpetual “secure the border first” excuse for inaction. 
  • And on the campaign trail, Republicans are portraying immigrants and asylum seekers as dangerous “invaders” seeking to “replace” white Americans, while largely ducking or refusing to specify their positions towards Dreamers and the popular DACA program that protects some of them from deportation. 

It’s a vicious and cynical cycle: the GOP is fear mongering over the border and conflating border apprehensions with an ‘open’ border as a core part of their political messaging; seeking to strip DACA protections from Dreamers in the courts, led by Texas Republicans relying on the “anti-immigrant judicial pipeline;” then Republicans are citing the very border they are politicizing as an excuse to justify blocking a popular and long overdue legislative solution for Dreamers. 

In light of the expected DACA rule announcement and the larger precarious state of DACA and Dreamer-focused legislative efforts, candidates should be prepared to detail their views on policies toward Dreamers.

  • Republicans, including the Texas House Republican candidates in border districts featured in the America’s Voice bilingual, “Show Me Your Friends” campaign (Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), Rep. Mayra Flores (TX-34), Cassy Garcia (TX-28)) should define their position toward DACA and a legislative solution for Dreamers. Vague statements of support for Dreamers are insufficient when the Texas GOP is leading the charge to make Dreamers with DACA deportable.
  • Democrats, who have largely been uncomfortable discussing immigration this cycle due to the barrage of Republican misinformation and ugly focus on the border, should highlight support for DACA and Dreamers and go on offense on this extraordinarily popular immigration subject, while fighting for a long overdue and essential legislative breakthrough.

According to Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Director for America’s Voice:

“Right now, the national GOP and Republican leaders here in Texas support ending DACA and leaving Dreamers, many who have been here for decades, under the threat of deportation. Yet some Republican candidates, especially here in South Texas, want to have it both ways: lie about and hype the so-called ‘border crisis’ for political gain and have no affirmative agenda to address immigration issues, yet try to sound sympathetic or vague about Dreamers at the same time. 

Sorry, but it’s time to get off the fence. While the expected DACA rule from DHS is an important effort to try and strengthen protections in the face of GOP hostility to the program, the reality is that DACA recipients and the larger population of Dreamers and other long-settled immigrants need a permanent legislative fix that only can be delivered through Congress. 

DACA and the stories and successes of its recipients destroy the lies that Republicans use to justify their hostility to immigrants. Every single GOP candidate, especially those seeking to represent Latino-heavy districts and whose DACA and Dreamer positions are unclear, should define where they stand, and if, like the majority of Americans, they believe that there should be a path towards citizenship without holding this progress hostage to border security measures that will be their excuse for continued inaction. 

It’s also a reminder that the tightrope the Republican Party is trying to walk – trying to make inroads with Latino voters and recruiting a series of anti-immigrant Hispanic House candidates while simultaneously promoting nativist policies – is inherently unstable and unsustainable.”

Additional Background

  • Poll after poll shows DACA is incredibly popular among the country as a whole and even among a majority of GOP respondents (click above link for poll roundup)
  • Even in Texas, an August poll in Texas from the Dallas Morning News/UT Tyler found that while public sentiment on border security questions is largely divided along partisan lines, protections for Dreamers is broadly popular. The poll asked, “Do you support or oppose granting permanent legal status to immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally when they were children?”
    • Overall, Texas likely voters support legal status for Dreamers 61-27%, with a plurality of 31% saying they “strongly support.”
    • This support extends across party lines, with Democrats backing 80-11%, Independents 59-27%, and Republicans 48%-40.