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Momentum Continues to Save DACA

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Last Friday’s introduction of the BRIDGE Act is yet another demonstration of support for the young people benefitting from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As Senate co-sponsor Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said, “Giving these young people an opportunity to go to college, pursue careers and give back to their communities has been tremendously beneficial to my state. We have a moral obligation to do all we can to shield them from deportation and keep their families together.”

At the same time, key voices are reminding us that saving DACA from cancellation is just one component of our movement’s agenda. As Suzanne Gamboa of NBC News reports, BRIDGE sponsor Senator Dick Durbin views the legislation as a first component of the larger immigration debate, saying “there still needs to be a debate on agriculture workers, border security, the 11 million people here illegally and other issues. ‘This is just a starting point, a bridge to that debate.’”

As Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has been highlighting, “It is not enough to just say DREAMers are terrific people … the reality is DREAMers do not exist in a vacuum; they have parents and loved ones who have instilled values, work ethic and supported them to pursue an education and reach their full potential to benefit their country.”

The Hill notes that Senate sponsor Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “‘I’m going to support legislation that will continue legal status for these kids until we can find a fix to the overall program,’ adding separately that “the fight over the undocumented immigrants is a ‘very defining moment about who we are as a party.’”

It’s also about who we are as a nation, as underscored by the latest cover series for New York Magazine. The magazine’s annual “Reasons to Love New York” issue features the work and family of New York-based photographer and DREAMer Ricardo Aca — who rose to national prominence after his video showcasing his life as an undocumented immigrant working in a Donald Trump hotel went viral last year. As the magazine explains:

“This edition of ‘Reasons to Love New York’ has three covers, culled from Platon’s portfolio of New York immigrants of every age inside the issue. The portfolio is organized by age, from 1 month to 91. ‘We were thinking about what would make a great story played out over three covers, and thought about the three generations of immigration,’ says New York photography director Jody Quon. The family portrayed on the cover is a baby born a citizen, whose mother is a Dreamer, and whose grandmother is undocumented. ‘So you get the full arc of New York immigrants in the progression of the covers.’”

Meanwhile, college professors and college leaders continue to speak out on behalf of DREAMers. A US News & World Report op-ed from UCLA professors Carola Suárez-Orozco and Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, “American in All Ways But Paper”, notes:

“As the president-elect has threatened to rescind DACA, their [Dreamers’] own situation too has become precarious. Dreamers trusted in our system, and are Americans in all ways but on paper. They have played by the rules – worked hard in school, made it to college and actively fulfilled their social responsibilities. As one young woman told us, “I was raised here – it is my home sweet home. So why is it wrong for me to want to stay, serve, help, and work here?” Having attempted to become fully engaged young citizens of our society, they now find themselves exposed to a renewed rash of xenophobia and threatened by banishment from the only land they know.

Before this contentious election, when the situation seemed much less precarious, one of our participants told us, ‘It is not just stressful but also depressing for any human being not to be able to think, dream and plan a future.’ Within just a week after the election, a Dreamer told the New York Times, ‘The first thought I had is that I have done everything right and it is all going to be taken away from me.’ He added, ‘It feels a little bit like a betrayal. I’ve been here since I was 4 years old. I’m an American.’

Today, these collective words seem all the more foreboding. These young Americans-in-all ways-but-on-paper have kept their part of the social contract. We ask – as a society, don’t we have the responsibility to keep ours?”

A letter from the Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees Arizona State University, The University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, to Trump urges protection of DREAMers and DACA:

“By their own efforts, they have advanced through our school system, achieved high school diplomas and admission to our universities … we respectfully ask your administration to work with the Congress to design and provide an accommodation for these students within your overall approach to immigration enforcement and reform.”

And the Columbus Dispatch lifts up similar support for DREAMers and DACA from Ohio colleges and universities:

“‘We will vigorously oppose any effort to make it more difficult for students to come to the United States to pursue college degrees,’ Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones said in a statement to The Dispatch. ‘We will continue to admit students following our longstanding nondiscrimination policies, decline to release confidential student records without permission or legal mandate,’ he continued, ‘and decline to participate in any type of federal student registry based on national origin or other protected characteristics.’

To underscore his support, Jones has joined more than 500 college and university presidents nationwide in signing a statement calling for the continuation and expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. At least 10 other Ohio schools, including Columbus College of Art & Design, Denison University, Kenyon College, Ohio Dominican University, Ohio State University and Ohio University, have signed on.”

“There is a wall of support to keep DACA in place, but that’s not all.  Across the nation, universities, places of worship, and cities are speaking up in support of undocumented immigrants contributing to our country,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.  “As we get closer to the December holidays, let’s recognize our common humanity and support policies that protect all members of the immigrant community from Trump’s mass deportation agenda.”