March Madness: Why the Dream Act Can’t Wait Until Next Year

An estimated 10,000 Dreamers already have lost DACA status

December spending package would fund deportations that would ensnare Dreamers

 It would take seven months to implement new legislative program for Dreamers

At Tuesday’s meeting at the White House between President Trump and Congressional leaders, Dreamer-related protections will be a major focus of the discussion. While Democrats are rightly insisting that the Dream Act be taken up before Congress goes home for the holidays, some Republicans argue that there’s no urgency because Trump established a March 2018 deadline.

This so-called March deadline is not only a ruse, it’s an excuse for inaction. As immigration attorney and policy expert David Leopold reminds us in a new op-ed published in The Hill, “The deadline for action on Dreamer legislation is not March of 2018, it’s already passed.”

When President Trump created this crisis in September, his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave many with DACA until October 5th to submit renewal applications. DHS sent out no notices, gave no reason for this arbitrary deadline, and has shown little flexibility for those whose applications arrived late due to postal and bureaucratic miscues. The urgency for hundreds of thousands of young Americans is intense, and Congress needs to act now.

Consider these facts:

  • Approximately 10,000 Dreamers have already lost their DACA status. 22,000 DACA recipients missed the Trump Administration’s arbitrary and unfair October 5thdeadline to renew their status. As the Center for American Progress recentlyestimated, this means that 122 Dreamers every day will lose their DACA protections between October 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, meaning that that we have recently passed the 10,000 mark of Dreamers who have already lost their status and related protections.
  • Dreamers are already under threat and the December spending package threatens to become a vote to deport Dreamers. Voting for immigration enforcement included in the omnibus spending bill without relief for Dreamers will end up being a vote to fund the deportation of Dreamers. As Leopold’s op-ed notes, “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.” (We excerpt Leopold’s op-ed below and the full version is available online here).
  • It will take seven months to implement Dreamer legislation and confer new status: New research from the National Immigration Forum and the Niskanen Centerfinds that it would take a minimum of seven months to set up and implement Dreamer legislation from the date a bill is signed into law. In other words, if Congress enacts legislation to protect Dreamers in December, the first Dreamer to receive status under the new law would be in June or July of 2018. Without the guarantee of a new bill’s implementation, tens of thousands of Dreamers could lose their jobs, their incomes, and be exposed to deportation.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:

Those Republicans who don’t feel any sense of urgency about solving the crisis created by their President might want to think again. If you vote for immigration enforcement funds in December but block the Dream Act, you will go down in history as an architect of one of America’s darkest chapters.  You will be funding the deportation of our own young people. Dreamers are not bargaining chips or political footballs, they are Americans who are counting on the leaders of this country to enact legislation that formally recognizes this fact. History will not be kind to those who look for excuses, make up fake deadlines and shirk their responsibility to do what the vast majority of Americans want done. Young people are losing their toehold in the country that they live in and love. And only Congress can resolve this crisis. The moment of truth is upon us.

Below, find excerpts of David Leopold’s op-ed in The Hill, “A vote to pass year-end budget is a vote to deport Dreamers” (full version available here):

…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.

…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.

Source: http://americasvoice.org/press_releases/dream-act-cant-wait/