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Democrats Get It: DACA is Not Enough

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Through Reconciliation, Democrats in Congress gear up to deliver on behalf of Dreamers, TPSers, farm workers and other essential workers

Washington, DC – Democrats from across the spectrum are consolidating their position and gearing up to deliver citizenship for millions of immigrants as part of their larger Build Back Better agenda. Leaders from Senator Manchin to AOC are speaking out in favor of including immigration in the reconciliation process. This includes two key committee chairmen: Senate Budget Committee Chair Bernie Sanders and House Budget Committee Chair John Yarmuth. Chairman Yarmuth tweeted this last night:

After the DACA court ruling, Congress must step up. As a Member of the 2013 Gang of 8, I am committed to comprehensive immigration reform. As House Budget Chairman, I believe we can draft a bill to get it done. After all, immigration through reconciliation has happened before.

The human infrastructure package being assembled by Democrats is inclusive. It would create pathways to citizenship for Dreamers with DACA, for Dreamers left out of DACA – including the 80,000 young immigrants abruptly cut off from DACA approvals by Judge Hanen’s decision – as well as TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers. 

Listen to these voices.

  • Arturo Rodriguez, President of United Farm Workers (UFW), a witness in today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing: “Farm workers ensure our nation’s food supply at the risk of their own health and safety, toiling under extreme temperatures and other dangerous conditions to perform skilled and strenuous work in fields, nurseries, greenhouses, dairies, and ranches…Now we need the Senate to use every tool at its disposal to honor the people that we rely on to feed the nation and bring stability to the agricultural industry. The cost of inaction builds each year for all parties involved and for our country. If we’re serious about addressing the issue of agricultural labor, this is our moment.”
  • Greisa Martinez Rosas, a 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. Just this week, Senate Democrats included a pathway to citizenship for millions in their proposed budget resolution, which was a direct result of our movement’s power. Democrats must act now to make citizenship a reality! The only thing that can protect all immigrant youth, TPS holders, farm workers and other essential workers, is a path to citizenship through reconciliation.”
  • Ariela Rodriguez, a Dreamer from Texas who applied to DACA for the first time and had her application halted by the Hanen ruling: “I want to achieve more in my life and I know I can do it. But it (the ruling) left all of us in limbo … Why are they playing with our lives and hopes like that?”
  • Astrid Silva, DACA recipient and leader of Dream Big Nevada:“What happens now? These are people who had been waiting months and months. They did the right thing. They did what they were told. They sent their applications in December, January…They waited the whole time. That’s the frustration. They did everything they were supposed to.”
  • Itzel Olivas, a DACA recipient from Colorado: “DACA was meant to be a temporary measure, not a solution…The relief of having DACA feels especially fragile thanks to the repeated attempts by politicians to end the program. There is always the chance that Congress could decide to eliminate DACA and launch all of us back into the uncertainty of undocumented American life. The Dream Act promises to give us a permanent solution.”
  • Juana Guzman, lead organizer at the Texas-based Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES): “We believe that everyone, including DACA-eligible youth and DACA recipients, and just in general, the close to 13 million undocumented people are included in that conversation. Having DACA for some is not enough. We really need more permanent relief…[Congress] has all these tools at their disposal, and we want them to use them as much as the previous administration used these tools to pass anti-immigrant legislation.”
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Chairwoman: “As we aggressively fight this misguided ruling in the courts, we must also act quickly in Congress. That begins by providing a roadmap to citizenship for essential workers, farmworkers, TPS recipients, and Dreamers as part of the upcoming reconciliation package — a popular policy and a key priority of the Progressive Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, and the Asian and Pacific American Caucus.”
  • Veronica Lagunas, TPS Holder, San Fernando TPS Committee, Spokesperson for the National TPS Alliance: “We welcome Senate Democrats’ inclusion of green cards for TPS holders, Dreamers, farmworkers and essential workers and hope that we can finally accomplish much needed immigration reform which can benefit millions of people in our community. We are also delighted to hear that even Senator Manchin has come out in support of immigration being included in this deal, despite his reputation as a moderate democrat who would be opposed.”
  • Gustavo Ajche, an immigrant from Guatemala who works in construction by day and delivers food to Upper Manhattan restaurants by night (From a New York Times interactive story today that profiles dozens of the essential service workers who kept us going throughout COVID): “The pandemic was hard, but it taught me I can help. I would come home exhausted, but hearing ‘gracias’ or ‘God bless you,’ that was beautiful. I’ll never forget my roots in Guatemala. But I feel like a real New Yorker now. I struggled for my community.”
  • As New American Economy notes, immigrants have made up huge numbers of essential workers: “Immigrants are fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 health crisis in a variety of essential occupations … Today, immigrants make up…more than a quarter of America’s physicians…Immigrants make up more than 1 in 5 Food Sector Workers, including 28.7% of Food Processing Workers, 27.6% of Agriculture Workers, 18.2% of Food Delivery Workers, and 16.6% of Grocery and Supermarket Workers. Overall, immigrant workers disproportionately serve in the riskiest jobs.”