Young latinos

Defending DACA

Recently, Texas was in the news when they, and nine other states, chose to challenge DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). They will be pressing the Trump administration to rescind this executive order. Should DACA still be on the books on September 5, 2017, they have threatened to sue the federal government to have DACA canceled.

We can’t let that happen.

President Donald J Trump
President Donald J Trump

Our current Chief Executive ran on a platform of misinformation and outright lies. He came in to the political process like a charlatan with an armful of “cures” that the electorate was desperate to believe in. Despite the warnings and cautions offered across the land, enough people bought into the false hope offered by Donald Trump that he is our president. Well, he pretends to be, in any case.

One area where Trump has seemed to offer hope has been in the support of DACA. While he wasted no time on the campaign trail besmirching the efforts and accomplishments of immigrants from the four corners of our Earth, once elected, Trump seemed to offer an olive branch to those young people who had chosen to enroll in DACA. He has stated that he would be willing to support the people in the DACA program.

Ken Paxton, Texas AG
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

This is where Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton enters. He and nine other states have pressed the Trump administration to phase out the controversial program put in place in 2012 after a congressional effort to pass the DREAM Act failed.[1]

The Trump administration has until Sept. 5 to decide whether to rescind the program or face a court challenge by the states.

Should he go through with his threats, it is likely that there will be court challenges keeping DACA in place for the time being. But, nonetheless, we must act.

President Barack Obama
President Obama introduced DACA by executive order

DACA succeeded because many, many young people trusted their government to protect them while congress worked on a permanent solution to their situation. In the worst-case scenario, these same young people can be targeted for deportation using the very information they’ve been providing in the hopes of becoming residents and citizens of the only nation most of the know; the nation they call “home.”

There are several pieces of legislation working through congress now. Any of them would be a step in the right direction. While none of them are perfect, they are a starting point toward solving the problem we’re in now.

In no particular order, here are some of the bill that have received attention of late.

Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act (H.R. 1468 – Curbelo (FL))

The bill provides immigrants that have been vetted by The Department of Homeland Security with three pathways toward legalization: higher education, service in the armed forces, or work authorization. Following a 5-year conditional status, these immigrants would be able to reapply for a 5-year permanent status.

Dream Act of 2017 S. 1615 / H.R.3440

Sens Durbing and Graham
Sens Dick Durbin and Lindsay Graham

To authorize the cancellation of removal and adjustment of status of certain individuals who are long-term United States residents and who entered the United States as children and for other purposes.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin plan to re-introduce a version of the long-stalled DREAM Act, hoping to provide a lifeline to young immigrants who are likely to lose their special protected status because of a court challenge from Texas and nine other states.

The BRIDGE Act S.3542

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), along with five other senators, have introduced the BRIDGE Act, bipartisan legislation whose intent is to allow people who are eligible for or who have received work authorization and temporary relief from deportation through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to continue living in the U.S. with permission from the federal government. Identical legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) and seven other House members.

What to do:

Contact your representatives

US Capitol building
US Capitol building

Contact your representative and let them know that you want them to support our DREAMers and the people who are enrolled in DACA. Deporting these people simply makes no sense. These people are our friends. They are our family. Many of them grew up alongside our own children. They are us.

To contact your US Congressional representative you can search the House of Representatives website and search for your congressional representative using your ZIP code. Start here: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

You can even reach them by calling the House of Representatives main switchboard at (202)225-3121.

For the US Senate, you can visit their web page at: https://www.senate.gov/general/contacting.htm

The Senate’s main switchboard is at (202) 224-3121.

Act Locally

Canvassing a neighborhood
Canvassing a neighborhood

If you look in your neighborhood, there are many groups who are likely already working with immigrants, including some who may be DACA participants. Many of these groups work through churches and other religious organizations. Just because you don’t attend services regularly, doesn’t mean you can’t help in these important times.

You can volunteer with activities such as

  • Tutoring kids whose parent may not be able to read and understand homework assignments
  • Helping teach/assist with ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. English is a difficult language to learn. You are more than qualified to help someone else learn.
  • Help raise funds for the legal defense funds that are in place to help DACA / DREAMers in your community

Step into the Light

If you are enrolled in DACA, consider telling your story. As more people learn about you, they will learn that DACA recipients are people already in the community. Many of them are contributing to the success of their neighborhoods without their neighbors realizing that they are in the DACA program. This is a BIG step for most people. Very few are brave enough to speak up. But the more voices we hear, the greater the chance of succeeding in changing perceptions of who /what a DACA recipient is.

Summary

One thing is certain: If Texas succeeds in challenging DACA, we will ALL suffer for it. So act, we must. YOU must.

The first step is the hardest. But in retrospect, it’s the most rewarding.

 

References:

[1] Republican teams with Democrat to save ‘Dreamers’ [http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article161871348.html]

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