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The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the initiative that has provided deportation relief and work permits for nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants, is under attack. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has threatened the Trump Administration: if DACA isn’t ended by September 5th, he 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. The play seems to be to put Sessions in a position to go to the boss and say, ‘we’re going to lose in the courts so let’s end it ourselves.’ Meanwhile, McClatchy reports that a bipartisan DREAM Act is likely to be introduced in the coming days.
The following is a statement by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.
The President needs to keep DACA in place. To do so, he will need to stand up to the bullying from within his own party and from within his own Administration. Yes, we need a permanent solution and only Congress can make that happen. But until Congress passes either a clean DREAM Act or broader immigration reform, President Trump must preserve DACA. If he doesn’t, he will be held responsible for delivering a devastating blow to the futures of some 800,000 Dreamers – young people who live, study, and work in America.
Frustrated that President Trump has preserved DACA for now, hardliners are trying to force his hand. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, perhaps aided by a wink-and-a-nod from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is demanding that DACA be killed off. Seemingly aware that Sessions may be in on the Paxton maneuver, President Trump recently declared that the decision regarding DACA’s future is ‘a decision that I make.’
DACA has unlocked economic opportunities for the nearly 800,000 beneficiaries who have come forward, passed background checks and been granted permission to live and work legally in America. Many have been able to fulfill their dreams of attending and completing college. Most are working legally, paying taxes and providing for their families.
Public support for Dreamers is strong, even among Trump supporters. DACA is popular with the public and enjoys the support of employers, educators, community leaders, and elected officials from both parties. According to an April Morning Consult and Politico poll, 78% of American voters support giving Dreamers the chance to stay permanently in America, including 73% of Trump voters. Only 14% of all voters (23% of Trump supporters) think Dreamers should be deported.
People of good will from across the political spectrum must take a stand. We must stand up for Dreamers and insist that DACA be kept in place until Congress enacts a clean version of the DREAM Act or broader immigration reform. Furthermore, we must stand up for undocumented immigrants who are settled in America and contribute so much to the country they now call home – many of whom have Dreamers in their families. We cannot stand by while aggressive efforts are underway to deport millions of hardworking immigrants with deep ties to America. And if Trump won’t defend DACA, it will be yet another confirmation that every undocumented immigrant in America is under immediate threat.
For five years, DACA has burned as bright as the torch atop the Statue of Liberty. We must not let radicals extinguish the futures of young people who are an integral part of our nation’s future. President Trump, do the right thing. And do it now.