ORLANDO, FL — Yesterday, FWD.us joined U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL-09) for a luncheon celebration marking the tenth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to make extraordinary contributions to the U.S. and to Florida since the program was first enacted on June 15, 2012. Yesterday’s luncheon offered an opportunity for Congressman Soto to hear directly from Florida DACA recipients about the policy’s impact on their lives over the past decade and their future aspirations. Participants also discussed the need for congressional action to provide Dreamers with a pathway to citizenship and heard from Congressman Soto on what he is doing to enact reform in Congress.
The luncheon also featured a discussion on the upcoming Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hearing on DACA, which is set for July 6. The case could determine the future of – and potentially terminate – the DACA policy, leaving Florida’s 23,600 DACA recipients and 53,000 DACA-eligible Dreamers living in fear of separation from their homes and families.
Congressman Soto and FWD.us Florida State Director Ted Hutchinson began yesterday’s luncheon by highlighting the many ways that Dreamers have strengthened Florida and helped make the Sunshine State such a vibrant place to live. Because of the DACA policy, thousands of Dreamers have been empowered to contribute to Florida’s continued prosperity.
DACA’s tenth anniversary should serve as a reminder to the Senate that it is past time to put politics aside and follow the House of Representatives’ example by finally passing long overdue legislative reforms that permanently protect Florida’s Dreamers. As Congressman Soto told those in attendance yesterday, the anniversary of DACA should emphasize for all of us how essential it is that the Senate act in a bipartisan manner to send these immigration reforms to President Biden’s desk.
Participant quotes from yesterday’s roundtable are below:
“Since the launch of the DACA policy 10 years ago, Dreamers across Florida have made incredible contributions to the Sunshine State and deserve to be celebrated. These ambitious and inspiring young people have made Central Florida more vibrant and prosperous. I was honored to be part of today’s luncheon and hear about the experiences of so many Dreamers here in Central Florida. This month’s anniversary is an important reminder of why Congress must act to protect our nation’s Dreamers. I am proud to have supported the Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, both of which passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan basis. It is time that we reform our broken immigration system. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to put partisanship aside and finally ensure that Dreamers receive the protections they deserve.” – Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL-09)
“Today’s luncheon is an important reminder that DACA recipients are not just numbers or talking points to be used as a partisan football. Dreamers are real people with real stories, hopes and dreams. They are our friends and neighbors. They are our classmates, coworkers, teammates and fellow parishioners. Simply put, they are our fellow Americans. I encourage our elected officials to take a moment and listen to Dreamers and hear their stories. If they do, I firmly believe they will finally pass the permanent protections that Dreamers desperately need.” – FWD.us Florida State Director Ted Hutchinson
“Before DACA, I was facing a future full of uncertainty, but thanks to DACA, I was able to get my drivers’ license, graduate from college and begin pursuing my dream of a legal career. DACA has truly been life changing for me and many thousands like me. I pray that Congress will seize this moment and finally pass the permanent protections that we desperately need. We’ve seen ten years of success because of the program, and need a lifetime more.” – Claudia Jimenez, DACA Recipient
“From my earliest memory, Florida has been my home. But because I am undocumented, I grew up living with fear that I could be separated from my home and from my loved ones. That changed because of DACA. The policy opened doors for me that would have otherwise remained closed. It was DACA that gave me the chance to pursue my American Dream. As we celebrate DACA’s tenth anniversary, Congress must seize the moment and ensure that Dreamers are never separated from our homes here in the U.S.” – Italia Rico-Hurtado, DACA Recipient