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DREAMers and Allies Use Their Voices and Stories to Fight Back

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With inauguration just 43 days away, it is clear that the first big fight of the Trump administration will center on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the future of at least 750,000 DREAMers.  Across the nation, DREAMers and their allies are standing up to talk about the contributions they make to the country they love.

Below, we highlight a new editorial from the Washington Post; an editorial from La Opinión; a letter from 15 mayors and two government officials to Trump; and several op-eds from DREAMers, all calling for the protection of the DACA program. 

In a new editorial, the Washington Post urge Trump to rescind his pledge to repeal DACA and call on Congress to permanently protect the DREAMers. The editorial board contends that “what Mr. Trump does about the dreamers will be an early test of his administration’s capacity for cruelty — or for compassion.”

The editorial board concludes, “Mr. Trump has promised to repeal Mr. Obama’s executive actions on immigration, including the one from which dreamers have benefited. He is empowered to do so. Similarly, Congress is entitled to pass legislation that would lift the threat of deportation from a cohort of young, promising and energetic immigrants who will be a benefit to this country and its economic prospects for decades to come.”

The La Opinión editorial board highlights the unique risks that DREAMers face under the newly elected Trump Administration and presses President Obama to pardon the DACA-mented community. As the editors note, the vague comments from Trump in his Time magazine interview and the bipartisan coordination between Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speak to the complexities of the situation:

“The interest shown by some Republican legislators to find a humanitarian path for people who are not responsible for being undocumented is positive. That does not mean that the Lower Chamber will approve a bill of this type; they are likely to block it the way they did with immigration reform during Congress’ last session.

“All this shows that immigration remains an issue that profoundly divides Republicans, even after the campaign. That is why we cannot rely on what may happen in the Senate. That is why it is more important than ever that President Obama grants this pardon.”

Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio co-signed a letter with 13 additional mayors and two government officials exhorting President-elect Donald Trump to protect DACA and DREAMers for the betterment of the nation. As the elected officials noted, DREAMers improve our economy and our society – eliminating the program would reduce the GDP by at least $433.4 billion over the next decade. And, as the elected officials note, DACA helps secure our country:

“DACA makes our communities and country safer-both in terms of national security and public safety. The Armed Forces rely on DACA applicants to serve through Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MA VNI), which enlists individuals who are fluent in critical languages or possess medical professional skills essential to the defense of our nation. DACA is also an asset to domestic public safety. Ninety percent of DACA recipients obtained a driver’s license or state identification card as a result of DACA, and 54 percent purchased cars after getting DACA, resulting in more insured and licensed drivers on American streets. This means that they are driving after studying the official “Rules of the Road”, with insurance, and with a secure ID. in case of an accident, for local police needs, or for hospitals in health emergencies. This means that cities and their roads are safer for the DACA recipient, other drivers, the police, and the healthcare system.

Ensuring DREAMers can continue to live and work in their communities without fear of deportation is the foundation of sound, responsible immigration policy. Ending DACA would disrupt the lives of close to one million young people, and it would disrupt the sectors of the American economy, as well as our national security and public safety, to which they contribute.”

In a continued effort to encourage Trump to reverse his decision to end DACA and to showcase the many lives at stake, the New York Times editorial board is publishing stories of young DACA-mented immigrants, including Juan Escalante and Blanca Gomez. 

DREAMer and America’s Voice Education Fund’s Digital Campaign Manager Juan Escalante shared his DACA story yesterday. As Escalante explains, “There are a lot of misconceptions regarding the DACA program, but perhaps the biggest one is that beneficiaries of the program are asking for a free pass. DACA does not grant citizenship; rather it allows individuals like myself, who have benefited from state-funded investments like public education, to move forward with their lives and continue to contribute to their communities. That means DACA beneficiaries could continue to pursue higher education, starting businesses, or putting their skills to use without the constant fear of deportation if the program is kept in place.”

With DACA, Blanca Gomez, a DREAMer, Communications Associate, and Nevada native, earned two bachelor’s degrees, obtained a job in her field of choice, and is currently pursuing a higher education degree.As Gomez concludes, as the future of DACA is uncertain, “the time is now for our communities to relinquish their fears and use them to empower us for what the uphill battle that lies ahead. To not become distraught and give up hope, but instead become engaged and alter our future.”