Students, educators, activists raise the stakes on Congress for Dreamer fix


by Félix Pérez

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With only days left before Congress goes home for the holidays, students, educators and activists are ramping up their efforts to get elected officials to pass a permanent legislative solution for young immigrants, or Dreamers, brought here as infants or children. The next step: thousands of Dreamers and their allies will stage a rally on Capitol Hill tomorrow afternoon, capped off with a mass display of peaceful civil disobedience.

An estimated 11,000 Dreamers have already lost their temporary protected status, and tens of thousands more will soon lose their status, their jobs and their protection against deportation. Every day that Congress fails to pass legislation, 122 young immigrants lose their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, rescinded by the Trump Administration in September.

Dreamers were given a big boost today when 34 Republican members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan in support of a bipartisan, permanent solution for Dreamers, including 600,000 students and 20,000 educators, before Congress goes home for the holidays. The signatories are mindful that the DACA program expires in March and that Congress is unlikely to pass significant legislation in 2018, an election year.

The letter, in part read:

We write in support of passing a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients before the end of the year. DACA recipients — young people brought to America through no fault of their own — are contributing members of our communities and our economy. For many, this is the only country they’ve ever known. They are American in every way except their immigration status. . .

We are compelled to act immediately because many DACA recipients are about to lose or have already lost their permits in the wake of the program’s rescission. It is imperative the Republicans and Democrats come together to solve this problem now and not wait until next year.

DACA recipients, Dreamers and their allies are urging Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615/H.R. 3440), a bipartisan bill that includes multiple pathways to citizenship through higher education, military service, or employment. Every day, educators see firsthand how the decision to end DACA is hurting their students — many of who are consumed by fear and anxiety about what the future holds for them and their families. National Education Association members and others have sent Congress more than 15,000 Dreamer butterfly postcards to Congress and tens of thousands of emails.

Aspiring educator Vicente Rodríguez has been a part-time college student in California for seven years. “My DACA expires in May of 2019, half a year before I become a teacher. But I still intend to do all I can to help others. I have less than two years left with DACA and I will not surrender — I’ve worked too hard, come too far, and sacrificed too much to give up now. I will continue to fight for the Dreamers. I am undocumented. Unafraid. Unapologetic.”

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