On July 20, 2017, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act of 2017. This is the latest iteration of this important piece of legislation, which has historically enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. UnidosUS is encouraged by this most recent effort to reach across the aisle and once again attempt a meaningful, bipartisan solution for the many DREAMers living in our communities and making significant contributions to our nation.
The news comes at an important time. Last week we wrote about renewed threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy following a meeting between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the administration’s top immigration enforcer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The meeting followed a letter sent by 10 attorneys general threatening to present a legal challenge to DACA unless the administration takes steps to unwind the policy on their own accord. The Trump administration has until September 5 to decide on how it will respond.
In response to a new memo released yesterday by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the rescission of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía issued the following statement:
“While we applaud the administration’s apparent decision to keep DACA in place, today’s action is far from reassuring. The announcement that DACA would not be repealed was coupled with a decision to formally revoke DAPA, which would have given temporary protected status to an estimated five million parents of U.S. citizens. Further, the Trump administration took pains to note that they have not yet decided on DACA’s long-term future, as if the benefits to our economy, our society and the more than 750,000 young people beginning their adult lives in the only country they have ever known can be debated or denied. Claiming that DACA recipients are safe, while ending protections for parents and issuing executive orders to increase an already draconian enforcement policy does not actually ensure their safety or anyone else’s. This is why NCLR will continue to protect and defend the Latino and immigrant communities in the United States, and continue advocating for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform.”
On June 7, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—the federal agency in charge of processing all immigration-related services—released data on applications filed under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The data confirm that, in the first three months of the Trump administration, USCIS has continued to receive and process DACA requests at similar levels to those during the previous year.
Between January and March 2017, USCIS approved 107,524 DACA renewals and 17,275 new applications. The numbers are comparable to the previous three-month period (October to December 2016).
Photo: Office of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
On January 18, in anticipation of expected executive orders on immigration from the Trump administration, NCLR signed onto a letter from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights urging the new president to keep the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program for immigrant youth intact.
The DACA program was established in 2012 under former President Obama to grant temporary deportation relief to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States before their sixteenth birthday. More than 750,000 individuals—known as “DREAMers”—have enjoyed the benefits of the DACA program. For many DREAMers who have grown up in the United States, this has been the only country that they have ever known.
We applaud the bipartisan bill legislation Senator Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced late last week that would provide provisional protected status for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.
The 2012 program allows unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children—also known as “DREAMers”—who have completed or are enrolled in high school, and who have not committed serious offenses, to obtain temporary protection from deportation, as well as a work permit, renewable every two years. Since DACA’s implementation, almost 740,000 DREAMers have received temporary deportation relief.