“The U.S. is the only home that Dreamers have ever known, and they should not be forced to live in fear of deportation.” Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada expressed her dismay at the ruling of a federal judge last Friday, who partially struck down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (or DACA). The judge ruled that DACA was an unlawful exercise of Presidential authority by then-President Obama in 2012. The ruling states that the Department of Homeland Security may continue to accept DACA applications, but may not process them, partially ending the program. As a result, 81,000 first-time DACA applicants will now not be eligible for DACA protections. All the while, the future for current DACA recipients remains uncertain and subject to change from future court rulings and current politics. President Biden and Congress must take decisive action and create a permanent path to citizenship for Dreamers, who deserve to live without fear of deportation.
What is DACA?
President Obama created DACA in 2012 as a temporary measure to prevent the deportation of undocumented adults who migrated to the United States as children. Since 2012, DACA has provided opportunities for around 650,000 immigrants, also known as Dreamers, providing them with work permits and other benefits. To become a DACA recipient, an immigrant must be enrolled in high school, possess a GED, or have served in the military. The program requires recipients to renew their status every two years and does not provide a path to citizenship. Today, most Dreamers are in their mid-20s and 30s, many of whom have lived in the U.S. their whole life.
Why do we need to take action?
Dreamers contribute to communities across the country in immeasurable ways, especially here in Georgia. Georgia is home to over 20,000 children and young adults currently enrolled in DACA. Many of these Georgian Dreamers spend their childhood in Georgia public schools, but are blocked from in-state tuition at our public colleges and universities. On average, Georgia loses out on $10 million in tax revenue per year by preventing Dreamers from accessing higher education opportunities at in-state tuition rates. In addition, 5,000+ college graduates would be added to Georgia’s workforce if Dreamers were granted in-state tuition. We need to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers in Georgia to bridge these educational inequities.
DACA recipients are tax-paying, hard-working Americans who more than deserve to live out the rest of their lives in the United States with all of the benefits of full citizenship. Cesar Espinoza, a DACA recipient and director of Houston-based immigrant rights organization FIEL, states that now he and other DACA recipients “have to live our lives two years at a time, at the expense of another court ruling or whatever politics is happening in the country at a time.” , Congress must take action to provide a path to citizenship for Dreamers, preventing them from being deported away from the only home they have ever known in the U.S.
What is happening right now?
Last Friday’s federal court ruling, which essentially halted any and every new DACA application from being processed, has warranted condemnation from a wide variety of groups and individuals. The White House released a statement following the ruling noting its “deeply disappointing” nature, and President Biden promised a swift appeal to the ruling. The president also directly called for Congressional action to create a permanent solution for these Dreamers now left in a state of insecurity.
The solution currently being advocated for is a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders through reconciliation. Despite its broad and bipartisan support among the American public, action to create a pathway to citizenship for these individuals has never succeeded. Because the reconciliation process only requires a simple majority, rather than sixty votes to avoid the filibuster in the Senate, it is the most efficient and feasible way to create this pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS holders. Immigrants’ rights groups and other groups disappointed in last Friday’s ruling are adamant that this action be taken urgently as the Congressional recess in August is impending.
“Hello my name is _____ , and I am a resident of _______, GA. I am calling today to ask for your support of a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS holders. After the federal court’s recent ruling on DACA, there is an obvious need for a permanent legislative solution for millions of undocumented inidividuals. I urge you to vote and advocate for a pathway to citizenship through reconciliation. Georgia is a diverse and welcoming place, and it is important that our legislators act in accordance with these values by supporting the protection of Dreamers and TPS holders. Thank you.”
Senator Jon Ossoff: 202 224-3521
Senator Raphael Warnock: (202) 224-3643