Congressman: Protecting DREAMers a ‘Shared Obligation and Responsibility of Every American’

Congressman: Protecting DREAMers a ‘Shared Obligation and Responsibility of Every American’
Residents rally in response to the arrest of DREAMer Francisco Rodriguez on March 27, 2017, at the ICE offices in Portland, Ore. (Diego G. Diaz/Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said protecting and defending DREAMers from deportation is the “shared obligation and responsibility of every American.”

Grijalva and 156 members of Congress have signed a letter sent to President Trump asking him to launch a “vigorous legal defense” of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was implemented by President Obama in 2012. Obama’s DACA expansion and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) directive were blocked in court.

“We respectfully request that you continue Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and engage in a vigorous legal defense of DACA in light of the renewed threat of litigation,” the letter reads. “Along with continuing to accept requests for DACA, we ask that you direct your administration to: (a) oppose any efforts to challenge DACA in the ongoing Texas v. United States litigation; (b) ask the court to dismiss the complaint in United States v. Texas; and (c) refuse any settlement that would end DACA.”

A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson told PJM that USCIS is currently accepting new DACA applications as well as renewals for existing DACA recipients.

“We are still receiving and processing DACA renewal requests and, yes, we continue to receive and process first-time DACA initial requests,” the agency spokesperson said.

Grijalva told reporters that he would like to see the House of Representatives pass the revived DREAM Act, called the American Hope Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants who meet certain qualifications to apply for legal status followed by citizenship within five years.

Grijalva called the bill the “maximum public policy that would be extended to DACA eligible individuals, young people and kids across this country that would add an additional 2 million” to the roughly 800,000 individuals who have received DACA to date. He said the legislation would pass if it “hit the floor” in the House.

“I think what is going on is cruel. It is creating this uncertainly. It is cruelty – creating the perceived threat [of deportation] is cruel,” Grijalva said on a conference call organized by the nonprofit America’s Voice last Friday.

“It’s a difficult time for this nation. It seems that every time this administration gets in trouble for its own actions, whether it’s the Russia probe, whether it’s the fiasco around healthcare repeal and replace, whether it’s the rampant conflict of interest throughout the administration, that it always pivots back to the issue of immigration to throw red meat at a base of voters with a very narrow agenda, and we’re seeing it again. We saw it with the RAISE Act situation,” he added, referring to the legal immigration reform bill recently introduced in the Senate that has Trump’s support.

America’s Voice has launched a “Dreamer Dinners” campaign that gives “undocumented youth and their allies” the opportunity to “break bread with elected officials and discuss the importance of allowing DREAMers to live, work, and drive legally in the United States.”

The organization’s “Dreamer Dinners” are a way to grow “public support for DACA to ensure the program is kept in place until Congress can pass a bill like the new DREAM Act.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of the America’s Voice Education Fund, said the undocumented immigrants who have received DACA status so far deserve to be protected after coming out of the shadows and submitting applications.

“We would love a permanent solution that is as generous and inclusive as possible, but in the meantime DACA must stay in place so that DACA recipients do not have their lives turned upside down and be subjected to deportation,” he said. “Trump has said that he is the decider and we hope that he makes the right call. If he makes the wrong call, it will be up to Congress to pass legislation. Anything less would be a tragedy of historic proportions.”

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