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What’s At Stake With This Election? DACA Status for 750,000 Dreamers

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When it comes to one of Trump’s core and consistent immigration pledges – immediately ending President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)  program for DREAMers as a Day One priority – Trump poses a real threat to a real program that is a real benefit for approximately 750,000 DACA recipients.

In a new Medium post, DACA recipient Juan Escalante of America’s Voice writes that, “My ability to remain in the United States hinges on the 2016 general election, which is why I hope you will help protect DACA by voting for candidates who will ensure the United States continues to be an inclusive and welcoming nation.”

With much recent discussion and focus on how enthusiastic Latino voters are this election cycle, it’s worth paying attention to one of the key findings in our recent Latino Decisions polling. Recent polling conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of America’s Voice found that protecting the DACA program – and DACA recipients – is a motivating issue for Latino voters, with effects up and down the ballot. The polling asked Latino voters whether knowing that Hillary Clinton wants to continue DACA made them more or less likely to vote for Democrats – 75% said more likely, including 56% who said “much more likely” to back Democrats (only 17% said “less likely” to vote Democratic).

Meanwhile, knowing that Donald Trump wants to end DACA made 63% of Latinos less likely to vote Republican, including 53% who said “much less likely” (only 21% said “more likely” to vote Republican). Meanwhile, battleground state polling of Latino voters in AZ, CO, FL, NC, NV, and OH found that Democratic Senate candidates were “leaving Latino votes on the table,” in large part because they’ve failed to make candidates’ positions on DACA and other immigration issues a defining part of the contests.

So what’s at stake with this election? Why should Latino voters and other Americans who care about DREAMers vote? One reason: to ensure that DACA recipients like Juan do not lose their jobs and once agains face deportation on the first day of the next presidency.

Read Juan Escalante’s new Medium post, “What Donald Trump Means for Undocumented Immigrants Like Me,” below or online here.

Last February, I wrote about how Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric posed a very real threat to millions of immigrants across the United States.

Since the publishing of this essay, Donald Trump has become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, the GOP has embraced Trump’s xenophobic agenda, white nationalists have rejoiced and certified racists like David Duke have been emboldened to run for federal office.

With less than 50 days until the general election, the Republican Party’s platform on immigration is to deport millions of undocumented immigrants like myself and build a “beautiful” border wall on the U.S. — Mexico border. There’s also another step Donald Trump has vowed to take on day one: Ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. With that one action, Trump would immediately disrupt the lives of 750,000 young immigrants like me. We would lose our access to driver’s licenses, work permits, and temporary relief from deportation.

DACA represents opportunity for hundreds of thousands of young people across the country — many of whom are working to provide for their families, enrolling to pursue a career, or finding new and innovative ways to contribute to their communities.

What separates DACA beneficiaries from their peers is the ability to adjust their immigration status, which means that not only are we unable to vote; but we are dependent on a temporary immigration program that provides us with the ability to live without the constant fear of deportation.

In short, this election is shaping up to be the most important election for the immigrant community.

These are the stakes for immigrants like myself in this election. Our livelihood and fragile stability in the United States is threatened by a man who refers to immigrants as “rapists,” murderers,” and “drug dealers,” and a political party that refuses to challenge his racism and xenophobia.

Furthermore, Republican Party officials have done little to condemn and denounce the increasing violence against minorities and immigrants at the hand of Trump supporters.

There are currently 11 million people living in the United States without papers who, like myself, deserve a life of dignity and respect. That’s why we fought and ultimately won pro-immigrant programs like DACA.

In my home state of Florida, the stakes are even higher for the immigrant community. Senator Marco Rubio is running for reelection by promising to end DACA and promoting an anti-immigrant agenda that mirrors that of Donald Trump, which is why it crucial for Latinos and immigrants to engage in the election and stay informed on candidates’ positions.

If you are reading this, and you are an eligible voter, I hope that you recognize that immigrants like my family and me counting on you to help protect DACA and elect candidates who will commit to fixing our nation’s broken immigration system.

My ability to remain in the United States hinges on the 2016 general election, which is why I hope you will help protect DACA by voting for candidates who will ensure the United States continues to be an inclusive and welcoming nation.”

DACA Recipients By State, via Migration Policy Institute: