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State Leaders Join Congressional Democrats to Stand Up for Immigrants

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Democratic AGs, Others, Add New Fire Power to the Fight

In the face of new threats to immigrants from an “unshackled” DHS deportation force, a number of state leaders are stepping up to defend immigrants in their communities. They are joining a growing chorus of national leaders who are leaning in to defend immigrants at this critical moment. Below, we highlight just some of the most recent examples.

Last Friday, 20 Attorneys General sent a letter to President Trump regarding the need to maintain DACA until Congress can enact a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers. The letter states:

The consequences of rescinding DACA would be severe, not just for the hundreds of thousands of young people who rely on the program—and for their employers, schools, universities, and families—but for the country’s economy as a whole. For example, in addition to lost tax revenue, American businesses would face billions in turnover costs, as employers would lose qualified workers whom they have trained and in whom they have invested. And as the chief law officers of our respective states, we strongly believe that DACA has made our communities safer, enabling these young people to report crimes to police without fear of deportation.

Ralph Northam, Democratic candidate in the Virginia gubernatorial race, took a stand for Dreamers and the broader immigrant community in a debate this past weekend with Republican candidate Ed Gillespie.

With regard to immigrants in their state who are facing fears of deportation, Northam called Gillespie “missing in action.” Northam went on to advocate for in-state tuition for Dreamers while Gillespie, once a strong ally of President George W. Bush in favor of immigration reform, came out in opposition to in-state tuition and then ducked a question on the future of DACA.

Last Thursday, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy met with Nury Chavarria, a Guatemala native and mother of four who has lived in the United States for 24 years and is seeking refuge in a New Haven church to avoid deportation. 

According to the Hartford Courant, “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited Chavarria and her family at the church — even holding the hand of Chavarria’s youngest daughter. ‘We ask the question…whether it makes sense for the American government to separate this primary caregiver for two of four of these children,’ Malloy said. ‘It doesn’t make sense on anything that I know and so if it’s not explainable then I say stop it.’” Malloy also tweeted: “#NuryChavarria is a mother and has no criminal record. She is welcome in our state.”

Last week, Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with 22 other Senators, sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kelly, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Price raising concerns over new policies targeting the parents and relatives of unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America. The letter states:

In reality, this initiative does not make our country safer, but instead, exposes children to prolonged detention and separation from their families. This includes an adverse impact on mixed-status families, where U.S. citizen children may be separated from their parent or guardian and placed in the child welfare system. We strongly oppose this misguided policy that takes resources away from addressing true public safety threats and hurts children.

At a #DefendDACA event on SaturdayRep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke about the need for DACA and TPS.

In a must-see video, he urged fellow Democrats to get serious about defending immigrants in light of the Trump Administration’s attempts to double down on ICE arrests and deportations, and called on Americans to rise up in defense of immigrants.

Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), joined by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), introduced a solid version of the DREAM Act last week.

The bill was introduced in order to press President Trump to preserve DACA as well as to prepare the ground for a permanent solution. As Senator Durbin said:

The Obama Administration’s decision to extend temporary legal status to DREAM Act students is an historic humanitarian moment. This action will give these young immigrants their chance to come out of the shadows and be part of the only country they’ve ever called home.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

We salute these leaders for standing up and speaking out. This is a moment of truth for immigrants and refugees, and history will record those who stood up to the radicalism of the Trump Administration, and those who did not.