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Time to Build on DACA’s Successes and Deliver Citizenship for Millions

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Washington, DC – Today, on the ninth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 6, the “American Dream and Promise Act of 2021.” This legislation passed the House in March 2021 on a bipartisan basis and would put millions of Dreamers and TPS holders on pathways to citizenship. 

Witnesses at today’s hearing include DACA recipient Dr. Manuel Bernal Mejia and TPS holder and registered nurse Mr. Rony Ponthieux. Later today, Vice President Kamala Harris will hold a roundtable with six women caregivers who have DACA, TPS, and green cards as part of a push to grant them legal status through legislation in the Senate. 

The busy day will make the case why it’s time to build on the successes of DACA to deliver permanent status and citizenship to millions – including hundreds of thousands of younger Dreamers who were locked out of the program and unable to receive DACA protections during the Trump years, as well as TPS holders, farm workers, essential workers, and the rest of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.  

In national and local media, in English and Spanish, stories and voices are highlighting the anniversary of DACA and spotlighting why expanding opportunities for immigrants is long overdue. 

  • Jong-Min You, who was too old to qualify for the DACA program, told the Los Angeles Times: “I’ve been waiting in the sidelines for 20 years. We were the original Dreamers. That bill was for us. Think of it as a young kid when you saw everyone go to Disney World, but they cut it off for you and people keep going to Disney, but not you.”
  • DACA recipient Jaime Rangel to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The anniversary is “a great opportunity to reflect (on) what we’ve been through … It gives us the opportunity to fight for a better tomorrow … For most people who are undocumented here there is no real choice other than to try to push ahead. It’s pushing on ahead to create a life that you want for yourself because again ultimately we’re all free humans.”
  • DACA recipient Javier Quiroz in the Houston Chronicle on DACA prosperity: “I think I’ve done enough to prove that DACA was a success. We’ve got careers, we’ve got goals, we’ve built a house and I’ve started a family. DACA has given me all those opportunities…I’m living the American dream but it’s only a two-year subscription that I have to renew, and it’s been threatened.”
  • Immigration attorney Elizabeth Cordoba to NY-1 on passing the Dream and Promise Act: “There’s no reason why not. We’re talking about individuals that have no serious criminal history, they’ve been here for many years. A lot of them are professionals. Many of them are either college students, professionals”
  • Maribel Hastings wrote in Univision: “El aniversario de DACA y sus historias de éxito debe ser recordatorio de que regularizar indocumentados es buena política pública; que debe hacerse de manera legislativa y permanente; y que debe ir más allá de los dreamers, beneficiando a los millones que llevan décadas aguardando por una resolución”.
  • Juan Escalante, undocumented immigrant celebrated on Twitter: “Hard to believe this was 4yrs ago — happy 9th birthday to the #DACA program! Thx to DACA I returned to @floridastate for my masters, worked in #immigration at @AmericasVoice + @FWDus, & live with SOME semblance of normality. It’s time for Congress to pass #DreamAndPromiseAct!
  • A new report by the Center for American Progress found that granting a pathway to citizenship to all undocumented immigrants in the U.S. would boost the nation’s economy by $1.7 trillion over the next decade while creating 438,800 new jobs. The average salary of covered Dreamers and TPS holders would rise by $16,800 over that time span, while nationwide average salaries would be pushed up by $400.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Today’s focus on DACA, Dreamers and TPS holders is forcing Republicans to clarify where they stand on whether they support clean citizenship bills that will legalize millions of undocumented immigrants. Some say hell no, and some say, no, not that bill. 

Those that pretend they are open to compromise, like Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) have this down to a pattern: they ask for too much, get to no, and then blame the Democrats. Republicans don’t want to solve immigration challenges in 2021, they run on immigration in 2022. 

But while Republicans want to obstruct the Biden agenda, politicize the border, and use the mirage of bipartisan negotiations to slow walk the process and scuttle legislation, the American public – even majorities of Republicans – want a pathway to citizenship for millions.

It’s time for Congress to formally recognize settled undocumented immigrants as the Americans they already are. And it’s time Democrats in the majority to use every ounce of their power to make it happen.”