WASHINGTON – During a conference call briefing with former President Obama’s solicitor general, an immigrant-rights activist called for Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to protect DREAMers and undocumented immigrants from deportation.
“Congress must vote to defund the deportation agency and pass legislation to protect immigrants in a way that is permanent and in a way that is clean from enforcement. We will not be used as bargaining chips in Trump’s cruel strategy to detain and deport millions of our families and friends,” said Greisa Martinez, deputy executive director of United We Dream, during a recent press call with former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
“Congress does have the ability right now to not only protect DACA recipients but the rest of the undocumented community by defunding and taking away money from ICE and CBP, which are these large police agencies coming into our homes and are responsible for the children in the cages,” she added.
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, argued that the Trump administration doesn’t want a solution to protect from deportation beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, despite the plan it had offered earlier this year that would have offered a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million DREAMers in return for full border wall funding and other measures.
“They really have decided to use DREAMers as that bargaining chip for a larger blueprint that’s actually about restricting legal immigration and, because of that, it makes it difficult to see how we get a political legislative solution before the elections,” she said.
Texas and Alabama are among the 10 states that are part of a lawsuit seeking an injunction that would end DACA nationally.
Verrilli, a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, slammed the effort to end DACA, arguing that its opponents do not have a solid legal argument for ending the program.
“They’re trying to straddle. They have not provided reasoned explanations and under the law, if you are going to make as significant a change as this one, you’ve got to provide a reasoned explanation and they haven’t done it,” he said.
Even though existing DACA recipients can renew their status, Martinez urged immigrant-rights activist to continue pushing for a legislative solution in Congress for DACA.
“We have to in action mode and all people who care about immigrant youth must be in action mode so DACA is right and we will defend it in the courts but if you are a DACA recipient or you’re connected to them, our ask is they visit the renewmydaca.com website,” she said.
“We don’t know how much longer immigrant youth can renew their DACA and many us of us are losing protections every day already so our goal right now is to get as many people as we can in the protected pool as possible, because we know DACA works and the attacks against it are a part of Trump’s mission to remove protections from people who are protected and to send a deportation force after all of us,” she added.
Martinez urged DACA recipients not to wait to see what happens in the court system.
“We need to make sure that as many people have DACA as possible, that we are defunding ICE and CBP, who are coming after us, and that we’re ensuring we are creating opportunities at the state and local level for people to have proactive and protective policies,” she said.