August 15th marked four years since U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting requests for President Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. DACA provides deportation relief and two-year work permits for young people aged 15–30 who came to the United States as children, allowing you to live without fear of being torn away from the only country you’ve ever really known.
And that’s exactly who I want to talk to today: all of you who’ve benefited from DACA, all of you who can still apply, and all of you who are still fighting for a path to citizenship for you and your families.
I’m sure this election has been stressful for you.
It can’t be easy to hear a presidential candidate demonize immigrant families and blame you for our nation’s problems. That’s not fair, it’s not kind, and it’s also just not true. In every state in this country, immigrants are starting small businesses, growing our economy, and making our communities and our country stronger.
Many of you have told me how horrible it felt to be treated differently from other kids when it was time to apply for college. You’ve told me about the feeling of knowing you couldn’t be like your friends, even though you are just as American as they are.
I want you to feel proud of your country, and of the countless ways you have contributed to it. And I want you to feel confident in your future and your ability to achieve anything you dream. In America, the place of your birth should never be a barrier that stops you from reaching your God-given potential — that’s what makes our country great, and that’s the promise I’m going to fight to fulfill.
So here’s my request: For all of you who are still eligible to request consideration for DACA 2012, I hope you’ll head to uscis.gov right now to learn more and apply for DACA benefits. Experts estimate almost half a million people are still eligible, particularly in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. I want each and every one of you to feel safe and secure in this country — and that’s what DACA can provide.
But I know that’s not enough — we have to do more for you and your families. That’s why as president, I’m going to introduce comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship within my first 100 days in office.
While we fight for comprehensive immigration reform, I’ll do everything I can to keep families together. That means defending DACA from partisan attacks and fighting to implement the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) policy. The Supreme Court’s deadlocked decision on DAPA was a heartbreaking reminder of how high the stakes are in this election. I believe DAPA is squarely within the president’s authority and won’t stop fighting until we see it through.
So today, let’s celebrate DACA 2012 and the more than 700,000 people it’s helped so far — and let’s also recommit to making this a safer, more welcoming country for all families, including yours.
We have always been a nation of immigrants — those of us whose families came here a little longer ago can sometimes forget that. But I won’t forget it, and I won’t forget you. Thank you — and keep being brave.
Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential candidate.