“They use us as ‘piñatas’ – as something political. But we have to stop this. We need something permanent.”
Washington, DC – Dreamers are reacting to Judge Andrew Hanen’s anti-DACA ruling by stressing the urgency of enacting legislation that creates pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants this year.
But a permanent solution for those with DACA is not enough. DACA currently protects 600,000 young immigrants; Dream Act legislation would cover some 2.5 million Dreamers, including the 80,000 young immigrants abruptly cut off from DACA approvals by Judge Hanen’s decision.
The pro-immigrant movement’s goal is to achieve a legislative breakthrough this year for the broader Dreamer population as well as TPS holders, farmworkers and other essential workers (a total estimated at approximately 7 million people).
Given Republican hostility to legislation that puts deeply-rooted undocumented immigrants on pathways to citizenship, it’s up to Demcorats to deliver. This requires including immigration reform measures on a 51-vote vehicle. This past week, Senate Democrats did just that last week by including immigration reform in the human infrastructure package expected to be enacted this fall through budget reconciliation. Even Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) is on board.
As Axios highlights, “The fate of roughly 80,000 people who applied for but hadn’t been approved for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program rests with Congress — and the Senate parliamentarian” (see the state-by-state breakdown of DACA applicants yet to be approved that accompanies the Axios piece).
See below to hear from just some of those directly impacted:
- Ju Hong, DACA recipient and county health worker in Bay Area: “We need the Biden administration and the Democratic Congress to come through on their promises to deliver citizenship for all, for everyone, so we don’t have to be in this limbo every two years. We’re tired of living like this—with this fear, anxiety and stress. I cannot wait any more. Enough is enough.”
- Greisa Martinez, DACA recipient and Executive Director of United We Dream: “Today’s ruling is evidence that DACA is not enough. The program has always been temporary, leaving hundreds of thousands of lives vulnerable to the next attack,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, executive director of the immigrant youth organization United We Dream, in a written statement. She also wrote, “Until President Biden and Democrats in Congress deliver on citizenship, the lives of millions of undocumented people remain on the line. Democrats must pass a pathway to citizenship this year, no excuses!”
- Cheska Mae Perez, an organizer for Families Belong Together, stated: “My lil brother & sister sent first-time apps for DACA at the same time in Dec 2020. My brother was 1 of 1,900 apps luckily approved, but my sister is 1 of 60,000 still in backlog impacted by Hanen’s decision today. This limbo needs to end. We need a pathway to citizenship NOW!”
- José Luis Zavala, a Dreamer who has a PhD in Urban Education from Texas A&M University, told Telemundo after Judge Hanen’s ruling (translation by America’s Voice): “It’s frustrating and it’s really not a logical thing. When we look at the Dreamers, when we look at our communities, we see that they’re working communities, they’re communities that want to work hard and move forward. So it doesn’t make sense. We are talking about a determined population, a persevering population, which really needs this opportunity. But we also go further than this. This is not just about us now. This also has to include our families… include our entire community for immigration reform. So I think their argument has been the same: they use us as ‘piñatas’ – as something political. But we have to stop this, we need something really permanent.”
- Andrea Anaya, a first-time applicant to DACA and United We Dream (UWD) member: “I applied for DACA for the first-time in February but have yet to hear back from USCIS about the status of my application. Today’s ruling means I continue to be exposed to the threat of deportation and don’t know if my DACA application will ever be approved.”
- Jaime Rangel, DACA recipient who works for FWD.us in Georgia: “We’re going to wake up tomorrow morning ready to fight. Ready to pressure Congress because we knew from the get-go that DACA was just not a permanent solution. We’re grateful for DACA but at the end of the day Congress needs to pass legislation.”
- Susana Lujano, DACA recipient and Houston resident to the Houston Chronicle: “Enough is enough … It hurts deeply that my home state, the place I’ve grown up in and that I’ve grown to love, is the one leading the charge against me and my right to live and work.” …Lujano has lived in Texas since she was 2 years old.
- Erika Andiola, Chief Advocacy Officer for RAICES, long-time advocate for immigrant youth: “Dear Democrats in Congress (specially Senators), If you are not ready to support a path to citizenship as part of the reconciliation process, then please save your ‘I support #DACA recipients’ tweets. You have the power to give us the relief we need. Use it.”
- Yehimi Cambrón, a DACA recipient, “was scrolling through Instagram when she saw the news — a federal judge in Texas ruled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is illegal. Her first thought: Here we go again. ‘It’s been a roller coaster,’ Cambrón, 29 said. ‘We’re exhausted and we deserve better. We know this program was not meant to be a permanent solution, this is something like a Band-Aid for something that needs surgery.’”
- Damaris Gonzalez, an organizer with Texas Organizing Project and a DACA recipient: “Let me remind Judge Hanen and the rest of the Republican Party that it was DACA recipients who were and are still fighting at the front line trying to save lives during this horrible pandemic. We are essential to this country.” She added that immigrants in Houston “urge President Biden and Congress to act now and do everything in its power to defend DACA and to include a pathway to citizenship in the budget reconciliation bill to ensure permanent protections against deportation for our communities.”
- Juan Escalante, organizer with FWD and DACA recipient: “Just got off the phone with @Astrid_NV who tells me @USCIS has sent text msgs to initial #DACA recipients cancelling their BIOMETRICS appts. THE ONLY WAY OUT OF THIS MESS is for Congress to DELIVER A PATH TO CITIZENSHIP NOW!”