ABA President Hilarie Bass emphasized to House and Senate leaders this month the urgency of congressional action to address the plight of undocumented young people impacted by the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in March 2018.
Bass explained in a Nov. 1 letter that the DACA program, established in 2012 by President Obama through executive action, has provided work authorization and temporary protection against deportation for nearly 800,000 young persons who were brought to the United States as children. Starting on March 8, 2018, an average of 30,000 of these “Dreamers” will begin to lose their DACA status and be subject to deportation each month.
The ABA supports the proposed Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615 and H.R. 2440), which would provide DACA recipients and other qualified individuals an opportunity to earn legal residence and citizenship by fulfilling specific educational, work, or military service requirements. While President Trump initially indicated that he supported extending the program if provisions strengthening border security were included in the legislation, he unveiled a long list of other immigration requirements Oct. 8 that he wants to be part of any DACA bill.
“The Dream Act is consistent with American ideals of fairness and opportunity,” Bass wrote. “Children should not be punished for the acts of their parents,” she said, explaining that the Dreamers have grown up here, gone to school and been active in their communities, and the United States is the only home many of them have ever known. She also pointed out that there is strong public support for Dreamers and that the Dream Act has been endorsed by a lengthy list of government officials, military leaders, and educational institutions and associations, as well as businesses and civil rights and religious groups.
“While there is no question that major reforms are needed to our immigration system,” she said, “the impending DACA deadline necessitates that Congress move quickly to pass the Dream Act and avoid getting entangled in a broader debate over more controversial immigration measures.”