Eight years ago on June 15th, President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and took action to protect Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children, from the threat of deportation. After years of Congressional Republicans blocking legislation, President Obama used his authority to ensure they could work and attend school and participate fully in the life of their communities without fear.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was an historic achievement of the Obama-Biden Administration, and it was a monumental victory for all those proud members of the community who pushed and pushed for these young people to have a chance at the American dream. More than anything else, it was the right thing to do.
What was true eight years ago, remains true today: Dreamers are already Americans in every way that matters. They are proud and patriotic. They serve our nation on the front lines of our military overseas, and they are serving on the front lines as we battle this pandemic at home. More than 200,000 DACA recipients are part of the essential workforce that has been carrying our nation through these past three months. Almost 30,000 of them work in health care. Simply put, they are committed to making this nation better and stronger, and our country cannot afford to lose their incredible talents. It’s long past time we permanently remove the uncertainty and threat of deportation from their lives.
On my first day as President, I’ll be sending to Congress a bill outlining a clear roadmap to citizenship. And, as we work to pass a permanent, legislative reform through Congress, I’ll use the full extent of my executive authority to protect Dreamers and keep their families together.
Instead, Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant Administration have forced us backward with one cruel and outrageous executive action after another. Trump sees immigration as a wedge to divide and distract the American people from his manifold failures as President. He has executed a campaign of terror against immigrants and Latino communities, abandoned América’s historic role as a safe haven for refugees and asylum-seekers, and even made it more difficult for people to immigrate to this country and obtain their citizenship legally. And, instead of working toward solutions to protect Dreamers, as he once promised to do, Donald Trump has ripped away protections from DACA recipients, throwing their lives into upheaval.
Now, eight years after our Administration made history by creating DACA, the fate of more than 700,000 DACA recipients hangs on the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling. Imagine the anxiety these young people are facing every day, on top of the anger and stress being felt all across our country as we grapple with racial inequities in our society and the fears of living through a pandemic. Imagine going to bed last night wondering if this morning would be the day that decided your fate, or next Thursday, or the week after that. It’s no way to live.
When our Administration created the DACA program, we asked Dreamers to place their trust in a humane government that would treat them fairly. We told them we would not abuse their information. We promised to protect them from harm. The Trump Administration has done nothing but exploit that trust and abuse its power, pressuring Congress to push through a deal for a useless border wall in exchange for protecting Dreamers, re-opening long-closed deportation cases against DACA recipients, and most recently suggesting that deporting DACA recipients is “attractive.”
Immigrant youth are not a negotiating chip. They are not disposable. They are an integral part of the American fabric. Their story is our story, and their struggles are our struggles. Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress should stop threatening their lives for political gain and instead follow the leadership of Democrats and the House of Representatives and immediately pass into law the DREAM and PROMISE Act.
DACA was never meant as a permanent solution. It was not meant to let Congress off the hook for providing a clear path for these young people to claim their citizenship. Dreamers deserve to be able to plan their lives with confidence, as do the 11 million undocumented individuals who are living in and enriching our country every day. On my first day as President, I’ll be sending to Congress a bill outlining a clear roadmap to citizenship. And, as we work to pass a permanent, legislative reform through Congress, I’ll use the full extent of my executive authority to protect Dreamers and keep their families together.
Let’s give these young people the certainty and the hope for their futures that they deserve. Let’s finally give them the chance and the opportunity they need to claim their full share of the American Dream.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is the Democratic candidate for President.
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