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On Call, Advocates Discuss Implications on Immigrants, TPS Holders and Dreamers As Trump Administration Signals End to DACA in DHS Memo

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This past week, in the latest effort to limit the program that protects immigrant youth from deportation, the DHS unveiled yet another anti-immigrant plan in their memo on the current and future status of the DACA program .Earlier today, in response to the memo, immigration lawyers and advocates came together to discuss the DACA program, its future, and how steps such as EADs can ensure families, friends, and communities will be able to stay together.

A hallmark of Trump’s presidency has been the termination of DACA and in one fell swoop, is the reason nearly 800,000 DACA recipients live in constant fear of being yanked out of the only communities they have known, the jobs they have devoted their everyday to, and the universities where they have spent years earning their degrees. Trump’s attempt to terminate DACA and separate families ignores the pressing health, safety, and employment issues on the forefront of the public’s attention. While the administration pushes on with its racist and hateful anti-immigrant agenda, the bipartisan majority of Americans disagree and find his plans divisive and cruel. 

Sanaa Abrar, Advocacy Director at United We Dream, said: “This move from the Trump Administration and the endangering of the lives of immigrant youth raises the urgency for Congress to move forward on passing permanent solutions that help people without hurting people. The Dream and Promise Act, passed by the House last year, must be brought up for a vote in the Senate to provide permanent relief for immigrant youth and TPS holders. As the Senate negotiates on the next COVID-19 relief package, immigrants must be included in aid – our communities need guaranteed testing and treatment, financial assistance regardless of immigration status and with Trump’s continued attacks on DACA and TPS holders, Congress must extend protections from deportation for DACA and TPS holders in the next COVID-19 relief package.” 

Andrea Anaya, United We Dream member who was planning on applying for DACA, said, “When Trump announced the end of DACA in September 2017, I was just one month away from qualifying for DACA and again in June, I had an opportunity to apply for DACA, but that was taken away. Having DACA would have allowed me to work and support my family to pursue my dreams. I will be studying public policy at Marymount and hope one day to sit at the table and draft policy that affects others. There is a lot of anxiety around being undocumented, with the constant presence of ICE agents and general uncertainty. Another four more years of Trump’s immigration policy would be dangerous and stop the pipeline to citizenship.”

Ur Jaddou, Director of DHS Watch at America’s Voice, said, “It is critically important that Congress step in now to protect DACA and TPS recipients, with the American Dream and Promise Act and, at the very least, by ensuring the renewal of their work permits well into next year, but also by helping to fund USCIS to prevent the threatened furloughs that could grind DACA and other processing to a halt.  

Patrice Lawrence, Co-Director at UndocuBlack Network, said, “The defiance of Trump for the recent SCOTUS rule is boldfaced, it is cowardly, and it shows us just how much this man goes to leverage whatever little political power he may have left. This is supremely unfair to DACA recipients as well as to those who would have been eligible. We know that more than 200,000 DACA recipients are front-line workers that have been putting their lives on the line every day for COVID-19 in various sectors. We know that rejecting all the new applications and shortening the length of DACA — essentially doubling the cost of the renewals while claiming to take the steps to review the program — is untruthful, it is something that is foul, it is something that is evil, and is something that is literally paving the way for DHS’ shortfall on the backs of immigrants across this country…The Ramos court decision for TPS holders is any day now, but if Trump can defy the highest court in the land, who’s to tell what he will do to the 300,000 TPS holders? Congress must step in and allow extensions of TPS and DACA in its next legislative vehicle for passage.  This is a test of their own morality and humanity.”   

Arlette Morales, CASA member and new applicant for DACA, said, “My home is here and now more than ever, I say that with pride. This land is ours and no one can take this from us. When Trump decided to end DACA was one of the worst days of my life, my life collapsed and all my dreams vanished. We deserve better. DACA is only a bandage. A small bandage, but blood is still visible and pain is still felt. I have decided that no one, not Trump nor this racist administration, was going to decide for me what my life was going to be. That day I started fighting with CASA and I have not stopped since. I am one of thousands of undocumented immigrants who wants to be on DACA. We demand that DACA stay and we won’t stop until we get the justice we deserve. It doesn’t matter if we fight three more times, four more times, even five: we will keep fighting until we win. We demand Congress step up and stand with us.”

Ignacia Rodriguez Kmec, Immigration Policy Advocate, National Immigration Law Center, said “This move effectively doubles the cost for DACA recipients and places the burden on DACA recipients to renew every year. This abrupt change, in the middle of a health and economic crisis, warrants further the need for Congress to automatically extend DACA and work authorization and to do the same for Temporary Protected Status holders, whose lives have also been upended by the Trump administration’s attacks.”