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Legal Experts, Advocates: DACA Beneficiaries Already Losing Status; Congress Needs to Pass Dream Act Now

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A recording of today’s event is available here.

Today, experts from RAICES, Make the Road New York, American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, and Center for American Progress addressed the reality that DACA recipients are already threatened – with unjustified arrests; with detention; with denials of applications because of bureaucratic snafus; because of the arbitrary and unfair October 5th deadline. Talk of a March 5th “deadline” is a myth. DACA has ended and immigrant youth are feeling the effects now. That’s why Congress needs to step up and pass a clean Dream Act before they go home for the holidays.   

Eliana Fernandez, Make the Road New York. She is a DACA beneficiary and plaintiff inBatalla Vidal v. Baran, said:

Ever since receiving DACA my life has been transformed in many ways. I was able to graduate from college, I’m currently attending grad school, and I became a homeowner. Thanks to DACA I’ve been able to given my two children more stability, both emotionally and financially. I am also a plaintiff in a national lawsuit against the Trump administration, where we are arguing that the decision to end DACA violated the law and was based on racism. I’ve decided to join this lawsuit for my family, because I reject the idea of being separated from my children. I fight for my family, and for all DACA eligible people. Yesterday, in court, the federal judge in our case ruled that we can amend our complaint to include those people denied DACA renewals, and that we can move to have all DACA eligible people certified as a class in the case. Our fight continues—in the courtroom, in the streets, and in the halls of Congress. 

Amy Fischer, Policy Director, RAICES, said:

This week we heard the story of Felipe, whose DACA was unjustly revoked by rogue Border Patrol agents who then handed him over to an ICE detention center, where he was inhumanely taunted for being an amputee. Felipe will be free later today, but his story highlights the precarious reality that DACA recipients must live with every day; made even more dangerous by an empowered and unchecked DHS and still no passage of a Dream Act.

Jessica Hanson, Skadden Fellow and Attorney, National Immigration Law Center,said:

On Wednesday evening, USCIS announced it would accept re-filing for individuals who had applied for DACA renewal by the arbitrary and unreasonable October 5th deadline and had their applications rejected. This decision would not have been possible without our role in the court with Batalla Vidal v. Duke, excellent and revealing reporting, and the courage, energy, and efforts of the plaintiffs in this case and DACA recipients across the country. We will keep litigating this case in earnest and remain committed to reversing the termination of the DACA program before March 5. We urge Congress to recognize that DACA recipients and their families are already being harmed by the arbitrary Sept. 5th and Oct. 5 cutoffs, and demand that they take swift action to pass the Dream Act before the holidays.

Lorella Praeli, Director of Immigration Policy and Campaigns, American Civil Liberties Union, said:

The heartbreaking stories of Rosa Maria Hernandez, Jessica Colotl, Jesús Arreola, and other young Dreamers and DACA-recipients unjustly targeted by the Trump administration underscore the need for Congress to pass the Dream Act. No young immigrant Dreamer should have to spend the holidays wondering if they will have to leave the country they call home or if they will be separated from their friends and families. 

Nicole Prchal Svajlenka, Senior Policy Analyst of Immigration Policy, Center for American Progress, said:

Often times when the press reports on this story they repeat the administration’s line that President Trump gave Congress six months to act before DACA recipients begin losing protection in March. Although the numbers will, in fact, skyrocket beginning on March 6, that description loses sight of the 22,000 people who will already have lost protection by that point. As of this morning, nearly 8,900 DACA recipients may have lost their protection from detention and deportation. By Thanksgiving next week, that number will be 9,600. And when Congress heads home to celebrate the holidays with their families next month, nearly 13,000 individuals already will have seen their DACA expire. The futures of hundreds of thousands of young people hang in the balance, and it is absolutely urgent that Congress provide them relief by passing the Dream Act. But we can’t wait until February or March – we need it now to prevent any more DACA recipients from losing their protections. The crisis has already begun, and will only get worse each day come March 6th.

According to a new Center for American Progress column, “Thousands of DACA Recipients Are Already Losing Their Protection From Deportation,” 122 Dreamers are losing DACA protection each day between October 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. As CAP notes, “the reality is that with every passing day, DACA recipients lose their protections and become vulnerable to a regime of enforcement overdrive.”