by Félix Pérez; image courtesy of United We Dream
Dreamers and their allies, including educators, civil rights organizations, faith leaders and the business community, are continuing to push Congress for a bipartisan, legislative solution that safeguards Dreamers’ futures, despite the political gamesmanship being waged by President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress.
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A White House blueprint released yesterday — providing Dreamers a pathway to citizenship in exchange for sharply restricting family-based immigration and calling for $25 billion in spending for a border wall — has met with stiff opposition from Dreamers, Republicans and Democrats alike. Trump set the stage for the impasse in September when he rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives Dreamers renewable permission to study and work. Last week’s government shutdown was triggered by Trump’s last-minute refusal to support a bipartisan Dreamer plan despite his publicly televised pledge to the plan’s drafters.
The on again-off again political posturing by Trump and congressional Republican leaders flies in the face of overwhelming public support for a Dreamer solution. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans (87 percent) believe Dreamers should be allowed to remain in the United States, according to a national poll conducted this month by CBS News. The poll is in line with several others.
Lily Eskelsen García, a Utah teacher and president of the National Education Association, called on Trump and congressional leaders to “stop playing politics” with Dreamers’ lives. She said:
The politics of inaction on a permanent solution to DACA are hurting real people. One hundred and twenty DACA recipients are losing their protected status each day that goes by. More than 16,500 DACA recipients have already lost their protected status—including educators—due completely to the cruel, unnecessary and anti-immigrant action by Donald Trump to revoke that protection. When DACA educators lose their protected status, they also lose their work permits. This unnecessarily prevents them from teaching our students and exposes them to deportation.
The recent government shutdown ended with an agreement that the Senate will take up legislation to protect the DACA Dreamers, who include 600,000 high school and college students.. Bu the fight is far from over, said Marc Egan, director of NEA Government Relations. “We cannot allow the lives of Dreamers — which include 8,800 educators — to be used as a political tool any longer. Republicans and Democrats alike need to hear our voices now. Even if you’ve done it before, dial 1-855-764-1010 right now and call your senators and representative. We must build momentum to get the Senate to vote to protect the Dreamers and pressure the House.”
DACA recipient and Texas high school senior Indira Márquez captured the “constant anxiety” she and other Dreamers live with in a column she wrote for the Daily Beast. “The cruel truth is that I have an expiration date. I can’t eagerly plan for my future like other teenagers. Instead, without DACA, I have to prepare to live without the ability to drive, get health insurance, or work and pay for my college tuition. And without a path toward citizenship, I now have to prepare for the real possibility that I could face detention and deportation.
“I could face deportation for something as small as a traffic ticket, or, because I live in Texas, any chance encounter with a police officer.
“This is definitely not how I had hoped to spend my senior year of high school. It’s not how thousands of immigrant youth had planned to live their lives: living in limbo.”
Eskelsen García said, “Stop playing politics with their lives. There are enough votes — from both sides of the political aisle — to pass this important piece of legislation now. We are not going away. We will not quit. We will not back down. We will continue to raise our voices to defend and protect Dreamers. And we will stay vigilant to make sure Congress does more than pay lip service to the promises they are making.”