ICYMI – Urgency for Dreamer Legislation Grows as Deadline Approaches

Wanted to make sure you’d seen the recent coverage around the urgency to pass a permanent legislative solution to protect Dreamers before the end of this year:

The Denver Post (Editorial) // Congress must stop dawdling on help for Dreamers
The Hill (Op-ed) // David Leopold // A vote to pass year-end budget is a vote to deport Dreamers
The Hill // Brett Samuels // Graham on government shutdown over DACA fix: ‘Anything is possible’
Washington Post (Editorial) // The fates of 700,000 ‘dreamers’ hang in the balance. This one should not be hard for Congress.

Congress will vote on a year-end spending bill before the end of this year which will include funding for immigration enforcement. If a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers is not passed this year, those funds will be used to deport Dreamers, who will lose protection from deportation starting on March 5th. Time is running out to resolve this urgent crisis.

If Congress fails to pass and fully implement a permanent legislative solution by that deadline, then approximately 1,700 Dreamers will lose their jobs every single business day between March 6 and November 6 of 2018. Without a legislative solution, roughly 800,000 young people are at risk of being deported over the next two years.

Below are articles that highlight the urgency Dreamers face as they wait for Congress to pass and implement the Dream Act before the end of this year.

The Denver Post (Editorial) // Congress must stop dawdling on help for Dreamers

Congress must stop dawdling on help for Dreamers

It is time for Congress and President Donald Trump to put blame games and unreasonable demands aside and to resolve the uncertainty of hundreds of thousands of U.S. residents by reviving and reforming the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Trump threw a wrench into the works in September when he revoked executive orders by President Barack Obama setting up the so-called Dreamer program that had offered legal work and student status to those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

One of the conservative arguments against DACA popular among congressional Republicans was that it constituted presidential overreach — that Obama didn’t have the authority to implement it through executive orders. Trump called that bluff. He delayed repeal by six months so that Congress could develop a legislative solution for the Dreamers.

The clock is ticking.

Just days after putting Dreamers’ future at risk, Trump tweeted, “Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really! They have been in our country for many years through no fault of their own — brought in by parents at young age.”

That’s actually a very good summation of the arguments for solving this issue. To qualify for DACA, applicants had to have been brought to the United States before their 16th birthday, have completed high school or equivalent, have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions, and pose no other threat to national security or public safety.

Many Dreamers have never known life in any country other than the United States. Many have served honorably in the military. In order to meet the DACA qualifications, every single Dreamer either is or is on the path to become a contributing member of our society.

None of them deserves to be punished — much less deported — because their parents brought them here as children.

Since revoking Obama’s executive order, Trump has blundered about, one day tweeting encouragement to Dreamers and suggesting a deal was in the works to pass a legislative fix, then days later releasing demands for a deal Democrats would never accept.

Democrats and Republicans can’t rely on leadership from the White House. They must work together to pass legislation that offers permanent protections for these people who are American citizens in everything but name. There are 800,000 Dreamers in this country, approximately 17,000 of them in Colorado, according to Gov. John Hickenlooper. There is broad public support for protecting them, and multiple bipartisan bills to do so have already been introduced. This really should be a no-brainer for Congress.

If Congress passes a bill that simply reinstates the DACA program, Trump would most likely sign it, his ridiculous list of demands notwithstanding. Signing the legislation would give him a rare legislative accomplishment to tout, and he can even claim credit for providing the impetus for congressional compromise on immigration. Whatever works.

Congress has been wrestling with comprehensive immigration reform for many years. And while we continue to argue for broad reform, we get it that now is not the time to try to solve the many differences both between Republicans and Democrats and within the Republican Party that it would take to get there. For now, lawmakers should stay focused on solving the problem facing the Dreamers, then turn to the tougher questions.

The Hill (Op-ed) // David Leopold // A vote to pass year-end budget is a vote to deport Dreamers

A vote to pass year-end budget is a vote to deport Dreamers

When Attorney General Jeff Sessions ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, President Trump promised Dreamers they’d have “nothing to worry about” for six months. It was reported that he had “delayed the pain” to be felt by Dreamers until March 2018, to give Congress time to resolve the situation. Contrary to Trump’s pledge, the pain is already being felt by Dreamers today.

In ending DACA, Sessions and Trump abruptly changed the renewal deadline for many to October 2017, and they did not take the minimum step of sending letters to those affected about the sudden change. Around 22,000 DACA recipients missed this accelerated renewal deadline and are losing protections at a rate of 122 per day.

Even some renewal applications that were filed on time are being rejected for specious reasons, such as postal service delivery problems and exceedingly minor clerical errors. Trump may claim to “love” Dreamers, but that’s hard to believe when his bureaucrats are finding every possible reason to deny their work permits.

The Republican-engineered demise of DACA means that immigrant youth are once again living in limbo — at risk of deportation for simply driving a car, boarding a bus or walking down the street.
The risk exists for DACA beneficiaries whose cards are expiring, as well as people with current DACA status like Felipe Abonza-Lopez, a 20-year-old from Texas. HuffPost reports that Felipe is being detained by ICE despite having valid DACA status and no criminal record. Advocates are working hard to get Felipe home, but today he remains in immigration jail.

Or recall the case of Rosa Maria Hernandez. At 10 years old, Rosa Maria is a “little Dreamer,” not yet old enough for DACA but still eligible for protection under the Dream Act. The child, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was arrested by Trump’s deportation force following gallbladder surgery at a Texas hospital, and detained for over a week. She was finally released to her parents after international outcry and intervention by the ACLU, but she never should have gotten to that point. How cruel.

Republicans in Congress are complicit in this. In a recent White House meeting, Senate Republicans conspired with the president to agree that a deal for Dreamers would not be included in the 2018 government spending bill. House Speaker Paul Ryan concurred. But if Dreamer legislation is not passed before the government is funded for next year, Americans will be paying for the deportation of more young people like Felipe and Rosa Maria.

Let me break this down. The 2018 spending package will fund the enforcement and removal operations of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol, which have been implementing Trump’s mass deportation plan since he took the oath of office.

The people targeted are not the “bad hombres” Trump promised to deport during his campaign. They’re people like Jesus Lara Lopez of Willard, Ohio, who’d lived in the U.S. for decades, had a legal work permit, and was paying taxes and raising a family. Jesus was deported after he voluntarily showed up at ICE offices for a routine check-in this year.

Trump’s deportation force is also targeting people like Daniel Ramirez of Washington and Riccy Enriquez Perdomo, a Kentucky mom who went to ICE to pay a bond for another immigrant and found herself arrested instead. Ramirez and Enriquez had valid DACA status at the time they were arrested, and had done nothing to justify arrest and detention.

Imagine how these examples would multiply if the Trump administration and Republicans on Capitol Hill receive the billions of dollars they are demanding for more deportations.

Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, testified at her Senate confirmation hearing that undocumented youth will not be a priority for deportation after March 5. But that’s difficult to believe in light of Trump’s deportation priorities, which clearly instruct ICE to target every undocumented immigrant for removal, including former DACA recipients — as well as the mounting number of cases that prove her wrong.

The deadline for action on Dreamer legislation is not March of 2018, it’s already passed. Unless Congress acts on Dreamer legislation ASAP, Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will transform the year-end spending bill into an edict to deport Dreamers. Just ask Felipe Abonza-Lopez, Rosa Maria Hernandez, Daniel Ramirez, Riccy Enriquez Perdomo, and all the other Dreamers with firsthand experience.

David Leopold is an immigration attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

The Hill // Brett Samuels // Graham on government shutdown over DACA fix: ‘Anything is possible’

Graham on government shutdown over DACA fix: ‘Anything is possible

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that Congress should look to make a solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program part of a year-end government funding bill.

“I think most Americans want to get these DREAM Act kids a more certain life. Let’s do it in December, let’s do it for the good of the country, let’s take care of a lot of problems at one time to show the country we actually can function,” Graham said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Graham and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) earlier this year revived discussion around the DREAM Act, which would offer a path to citizenship to young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

Graham’s comments differ from the view of the Trump administration and other Senate Republicans, who have said they would not include a DACA fix in a year-end spending bill to keep the government open.

Asked if he thinks a government shutdown is possible over the issue, Graham quipped “In Congress, anything is possible.”

“I think it would be sad to miss this opportunity,” he added.

The Trump administration announced in September it would be ending DACA on a six-month delay, giving Congress a window to pass legislation to extend protections for recipients.

Washington Post (Editorial) // The fates of 700,000 ‘dreamers’ hang in the balance. This one should not be hard for Congress.

The fates of 700,000 ‘dreamers’ hang in the balance. This one should not be hard for Congress.
By Editorial Board

AS CONGRESS dithers, the fates of some 700,000 “dreamers,” undocumented young immigrants brought to the United States as children, hang in the balance. Legions of chief executives, university presidents, advocacy groups and others have pleaded for lawmakers to lift the veil of uncertainty under which these immigrants, American in all but the legal sense, have lived since September, when the Trump administration announced it planned to end the protection from deportation they have enjoyed since 2012. Despite those pleas, Congress, facing a March deadline, has provided no legal means for dreamers to remain in the country where they’ve grown up, gone to school, worked and, in most cases, paid taxes.

Instead, the dreamers have become a bargaining chip, held in reserve by politicians seeking political advantage in Washington’s unending partisan battles. Large majorities of Americans favor allowing dreamers to stay in this country legally, as do top executives across the technology, retail, financial and other sectors. Still, an eminently solvable problem remains unsolved.

The haggling over dreamers is Washington at its dysfunctional worst. President Trump pledged publicly to back a straightforward deal with the Democrats under which the immigrants are granted legal status, in return for some simple concessions on border security. Then, under pressure from hard-liners in the Republican base, he pivoted to a set of maximalist demands, including funding to build a border wall and reductions in legal immigration. Some Republican lawmakers sponsored a bill to put dreamers on a path to citizenship but attached conditions — for instance, barring them for at least 15 years from sponsoring relatives for green cards — more onerous than those faced by previous immigrant groups.

Democrats, having failed for more than 15 years to enact legislation to allow dreamers to stay in the country, now threaten to block a must-pass spending bill, potentially shutting down the government, unless the measure is amended to resolve the impasse. Republicans say that’s unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on dreamers, most of them in their teens, 20s and early 30s. Owing to the administration’s decision to terminate Obama-era protections for them, about 30,000 will lose their protected status each month starting in March unless Congress acts. That means that in addition to becoming eligible for deportation, they will also lose permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration axed, that enable many of them to enroll in college with in-state tuition subsidies, work legally and obtain valid state driver’s licenses.

Last month, tech giants such as Intel, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and others joined a lobbying coalition organized to urge Congress to act to protect dreamers. Not to worry, said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.): A fix is in the works. But in the next breath, Mr. Ryan said any fix would require “a lot of other things” in the way of border enforcement. That suggests Republicans are more interested in exacting concessions than in protecting hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have built lives in this country. Not exactly a recipe for hope.


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