Support for Dreamers grows in face of Trump threat that would uproot lives

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by Félix Pérez; image by Patrick Glblin

Organizations and leaders from across the country are becoming increasingly vocal as the fate of 800,000 young people brought to this country as children hangs in the balance. The cause of their consternation: news reports indicating that President Trump will rescind the program that allows those people, Dreamers, to study and work while shielding them from deportation.

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Today, for example, education, community and elected leaders in Dade County, FL, lined up to support Dreamers and asked Trump to do the same. “Today,” Miami Dade Community Colege President Eduardo Padrón told the people in attendance, “we’re telling them ‘we’re with you.”

This spring, 560 college and university presidents, acting through the American Council on Education, formally asked Trump to continue protecting the undocumented college students allowed to remain in the United States under the five-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The letter states:

These bright and talented young people are working, are studying at colleges and universities, or have enlisted in the armed services. Because they now have work permits, they are making immediate contributions to our society and our economy. They are paying taxes, receiving driver’s licenses, and buying cars and first homes, all of which generates revenue for federal, state, and local governments.

A group of conservative state attorneys general have said they will challenge DACA in court if Trump does not rescind the program by Sept. 5.

Trump could trigger a backlash from corporate leaders if he ends DACA, according to one news story. Leaders in tech and retail plan to be “tough and vocal if Trump ends the policy. But they’re keeping quiet for now because they fear antagonizing him on a question that could have massive implications for their work forces.” A top Silicon Valley executive was quoted as saying, “There’s no issue that’s more gut-wrenching for us. These are people who came out of the shadows, got jobs and mortgages — we see this as betraying fellow Americans. … This is consuming a ton of time at every major company.”

DACA is a widely popular program, and it has received approval from across the political spectrum. In a recent poll, 72 percent of Republican voters said Dreamers should be allowed to stay, while 76 percent of Independent voters and 82 percent of democratic voters agreed.

In a letter to Trump, a group of Republican members of Congress encouraged the president to focus on deporting criminals and to allow the program to continue until Congress can find a permanent legislative solution for the people who qualify for the program. “Children brought to the United Sates at a young age did not have a choice in the matter,” they wrote. “They did not willingly seek to violate American statutes when they traveled with their families across our borders. . . For many, the United States is the only country they know or remember.”

An editorial in the Washington Post urged Trump to stand with Dreamers:

There is no clamor for ending DACA, which polls suggest enjoys broad public support. Ending the program would be a cruel betrayal and a gratuitous blow against the very people Mr. Trump just months ago described as “incredible.”

Utah elementary school teacher Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, said educators are committed to continuing to protect DACA students and immigrant families. In a statement, she said, “The idea that the administration would even consider breaking apart families and putting children in danger by eliminating DACA is shameful. . . The path forward for our country, and in the national debate on comprehensive immigration reform, should include everyone who is ready to contribute, grow and enrich our future – that includes the innocent children who DACA seeks to protect. We strongly urge the White House to abandon this wrong-headed and dangerous course.”

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