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Dreamers, Immigration Advocates & Legal Experts Celebrate Fifth Anniversary of DACA and Outline Next Steps in the Fight

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A recording of today’s call is available here

Washington, DC – Ahead of the fifth anniversary of the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, DACA-recipients, immigration advocates, legal experts, and community leaders provided the latest updates in the fight to protect DACA and the 800,000 recipients and to announcerallies in cities across the nation in defense and celebration of the program and an open letter from 100 law professors and immigration attorneys sent to Trump urging him to protect the program. A recording of today’s event is available here.

MariAlejandra Baltuano, Member, Mijente DC, said, “Today, at Upper Senate Park DACA and TPS recipients, and undocumented leaders stood together to demand that Congress protect DACA, defend TPS, open an investigation on ICE’s rogue actions and end all hate legislation. Elected officials should protect the programs that already exist and their recipients. DACA and TPS have saved thousands of lives and given hundreds of thousands of individuals countless opportunities. Over the past six months, Trump has released ICE to raid our homes and take our loved ones with impunity. This August recess, we stand together against the criminalization of our community and stand up for our hard-fought victories. We won’t let lawmakers take away the futures of our families.” 

Damaris Gonzalez, DACA-recipient; Advocate, United We Dream Houston, said, “As Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other politicians from Republican states make perverse threats to sue to end DACA and remove opportunity, and physical and emotional security for me and the nearly 800,000 people with DACA, we will not back down. Texans continue to rise up and resist the mass deportation plan of racists and xenophobes in our state. Last Sunday, we visited Ken Paxton at his church where his fellow churchgoers met us with racial slurs and slogans like, “Deport them all!”– but we did not back down. Right-wing Republicans invited Ken Paxton to fundraise for their hate, and I confronted him – I looked Paxton right in the eye and told him that no human being is illegal. Tomorrow, immigrant youth from across Texas will bring our defense of DACA to Paxton’s office as we march on the 5th anniversary of our victorious fight for DACA – because we will not back down. We demand that he withdraw his hypocritical and heartless threats to DACA.”

Greisa Martinez Rosas, Director of Advocacy and Policy, United We Dream, said, “Congress must defend DACA and TPS, initiate an investigation on ICE agents, and stand against all hate legislation. Tomorrow, thousands will rally in cities across the country and in front of the White House to tell the white supremacists that this is our home and we are here to stay. We will rally in California, in Washington, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, New York, Florida and all over the country. It’s indisputable: DACA works. It’s a program that all people can be proud of and is a living, breathing example of what sensible, effective immigration policy looks like. In a sea of horrible news, the DACA program is a ray of light. Now is the moment to stand up for DACA and for a country where every single immigrant and person of color can thrive and pursue a life of freedom, purpose, and happiness.” 

Andy Pincus, Partner, Mayer Brown, said, “There are two places in which DACA’s legal status is being debated in the courts, both in Texas and in the Arizona ADAC Supreme Court case. In both cases, there are strong arguments for DACA’s legality. There is a long history of both Democratic and Republican administrations using deferred action. There is a suggestion that the fifth court decision regarding the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans pre-determines the fate of DACA. This is simply not true. There are significant differences between the programs that make DACA even more legal than DAPA .”

Nora Preciado, Staff Attorney, National Immigration Law Center, said, “Five years ago, immigrant youth and their supporters fought for and won DACA. It was a momentous occasion. Since then, nearly 800,000 people have put their faith in the federal government’s promise to allow them an opportunity to live without fear and make a living. We are now in another pivotal political moment. The president has a choice to make. He should unequivocally support DACA and order his administration to put up a meaningful defense of the program in court. Anything shy of that would be shameful.” 

Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, Esq., Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar & Clinical Professor of Law, Penn State Law; Director, Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, said, “Today, I am honored to join more than 100 law professors in an open letterto the President to underscore the legality of DACA. The letter describes the constitutional, statutory, and regulatory legal authority for DACA and provides a history of prosecutorial discretion as a whole.  These legal authorities include the U.S. Constitution’s ‘Take Care Clause,’ Section 103 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and Title 8 of the federal regulations. Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion that has operated in the immigration system for decades. As the legality of DACA is crystal clear, any choice made by the President about the future of DACA is a policy and political one.”

Gustavo Torres, Executive Director, CASA, said, “We call on all DACA and TPS recipients, and everyone who believes these folks deserve a chance, to come out to our rally and be heard. Right now is a critical time to stand up and demand that the Trump Administration does what is right and protect these hard working immigrants who are contributing to the economic engine of this country.”

Five years ago the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative began to accept applications. Since then, DACA has provided nearly 800,000 young people in the United States with the opportunity to study, work, drive, and live with temporary relief from deportation. On this anniversary, Dreamers and advocates will stand in solidarity to urge the President and his advisors to protect the Dreamers that Trump said should “rest easy.”

This anniversary comes at a perilous time for DACA. Despite the unqualified success of the program, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states issued an ultimatum to the Trump Administration: if DACA isn’t ended by September 5th, they will sue to block it before a federal judge named Andrew Hanen, the notoriously anti-immigrant judge who blocked DAPA. Paxton seems to have a willing ally Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long opposed DACA.