Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined community leaders on Capitol Hill yesterday to demand a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers before Congress heads home for the holidays. Speaking at a story-sharing marathon hosted by FWD.us and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the senators underscored the need to pass permanent protections for the 800,000 DACA recipients whose lives hang in the balance.
An average of 122 Dreamers are losing their deportation protections every single day since President Trump eliminated the DACA program on September 5. StartingMarch 6, 2018, that number will skyrocket to roughly 1,700 Dreamers who will fall out of status and become priorities for deportation every single work day through November 2018. Over two years, around 800,000 DACA recipients will lose their work authorization, be ripped away from classrooms and deported to countries they have no memory of unless Congress moves quickly to pass a permanent legislative solution to protect them.
Monday’s story-sharing marathon was a six-hour readout of Dreamer testimonials featuring lawmakers and leaders in the business, faith and education communities who shared stories of why America’s Dreamers need the Dream Act now. Participating organizations included the National Education Association, Voto Latino, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, among others.
The story-sharing marathon was live streamed and reached over a half million peopleon Monday, with more than 50,000 reactions, comments and shares across Facebook. It kicked off a crucial week of advocacy in the fight to pass the bipartisan Dream Act, which has strong support from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. The event comes just days before a critical vote on a spending bill that could be used to fund the deportations of Dreamers who continue to lose protections, unless Congress first passes legislation to permanently protect them.
Also this week, FWD.us launched a nationwide six-figure digital advertising campaign featuring four Dreamers from across the country, to pressure Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers before they go home for the holidays. The ads feature a medical assistant from Texas, a mechanical engineering student in Washington, an IT business analyst at General Motors, and an entrepreneur and engineer at Honda in Ohio.
The ad buy comes as Congress is considering a year-end government funding deal, which could include funding for immigration enforcement in the interior of the United States. With the repeal of DACA, if protections for Dreamers are not passed this year, those funds could be used to deport Dreamers who will lose protection from deportation.
Quotes from participants at yesterday’s story-sharing marathon include:
“This is the time. With President Trump’s urging- he told immigrants that they did not to worry about, that they were wonderful kids. Then he said he was going to unplug the program anyway in six months which would expire in March unless Congress acted. It is time for Congress to act. It is in the best interested of our commonwealth. It is in the best interest of our country. It’s true to our values… We are with you and we are going to be with you until we find a permanent solution that will honor and recognize the great contributions you make to this country.” —Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
“We have got to pass the Dream Act before the end of the year. We need to get it done, [and] we need to get it done now. … We need to make sure we do the right thing in the United States and pass the Dream Act. Let’s get the job done. Let’s do it for [my constituent, Dreamer Steve Acuna], but also let’s do it for our communities and our country because we all benefit from these great Dreamers who want to live out the American Dream. Let’s get this job done.” —Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
“It’s not just [Dreamers’] interests that are served by enabling them to stay. It’s America’s interests because they have so much to give to America: Their skills, their talents, their energy. … The good news is there is pretty broad consensus and bipartisan agreement that we must do something, and we must do it now. And if we can mobilize that bipartisan consensus, we can enable the Dreamers to stay here. We can pass an act that gives them legal status. That’s got to be our goal. That has to be our mission in the next two weeks so that hundreds of thousands of Dreamers avoid the chaos and confusion that’s created by the rescission of DACA. [Congress] should not leave here for any of the holidays before we pass a Dream Act. That should be our mission. It’s our obligation, and I’m going to fight for it.” —Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)