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Cleveland, OH – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and 40 of their Democratic Senate colleagues wrote a letter to President Trump today urging him to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary relief from deportation to nearly 800,000 young immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, aka “Dreamers.”
The letter corroborates the widespread need and desire to keep DACA in place until Congress can enact a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. Last week, Ohio Dreamers and advocates called on Senator Portman to protect DACA and support the 2017 Dream Act, introduced by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Graham (R-SC).
According to Lynn Tramonte, Director of Ohio’s Voice:
DACA works, and it must stay in place. Over ten thousand young people in Ohio would benefit. Many already have, and have been able to get college degrees and work in their chosen careers because of it. Senator Sherrod Brown is standing in support of Ohio Dreamers. Where is Senator Rob Portman? So far, missing in action. Will he join Senator Brown and work to protect Ohioans with DACA? Will he cosponsor the Dream Act, vital legislative reform?
13,000 young people in Ohio today stand to benefit from DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Today, these 13,000 Ohioans can get a work permit, driver’s license, and a reprieve from deportation, once they are old enough to apply. Around 5,000 in Ohio have already done so to date. Today’s letter reveals just how beneficial and popular DACA is. Abolishing it would be a colossal mistake.
Following your inauguration, we were heartened when you said the following about the Dreamers: “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.
They got brought here at a very young age, they’ve worked here, they’ve gone to school here. Some were good students. Some have wonderful jobs. And they’re in never-never land because they don’t know what’s going to happen.” The following month, onFebruary 16, you said: “We are going to deal with DACA with heart.” We greatly appreciate that you have been true to your word and have kept the DACA program in place.
However, DACA now faces a grave threat. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine other states have challenged your authority as President and threatened to sue you if you do not rescind the memorandum that established DACA and announce that your Administration will not renew or issue any new DACA permits. Ironically, these states never sued President Obama over the DACA program. If this threat is successful, it would undermine your ability to set immigration policy for your Administration and put hundreds of thousands of talented young people at risk of imminent deportation.
While we appreciate your commitment to DACA, we are concerned that some members of your Administration have taken a different position. As a United States Senator, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was the Senate’s most vocal opponent of the Dreamers. While he is now a member of your cabinet, the Attorney General has refused to defend your position on DACA. On April 19, the Attorney General said the following about DACA: “We can’t promise people who are here unlawfully that they’re not going to be deported.” In an interview that aired on April 23, you said the following about the Attorney General’s comments: “The Dreamers should rest easy.”
However, the Attorney General contradicted you again days later when he was asked if he agreed that Dreamers should rest easy, saying, “Well, we’ll see. I believe that everyone that enters the country unlawfully is subject to being deported.” Remarkably, in a June 30 interview the Attorney General even welcomed the states’ threat to sue you, saying, “I’ve got to tell you, I like it that our states and localities are holding the federal government to account, expecting us to do what is our responsibility to the state and locals, and that’s to enforce the law.”
We urge you to respond to this threat to your executive authority by directing the Attorney General to use all legal options to defend the DACA program and thereby allow a generation of young immigrants with great potential to continue contributing to our society and economy.