Congress Must Act to Protect Dreamers For the Financial Good of the Country

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

While many are calling on President Trump, the Congress and the public to have compassion for the plight of the 800,000 young people who could lose their ability to live and work legally in the U.S., we want to remind everyone that not only will Dreamers be harmed by the president’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, so will the country as a whole.

It would be a tremendous mistake, both morally and financially, to allow the program to be phased out without the Congress enacting a permanent replacement into law.

This country has already invested enormous amounts of money and energy in the young men and women protected by DACA, and they have invested their lives making the U.S. their home despite the original circumstances of how they arrived here.

Now a number of xenophobic, nativists and racist members of the Republican far right want to blame this group for taking an opportunity away from native-born U.S. citizens. They accuse the DACA recipients –who through no fault of their own were brought to this country as children — of taking jobs from legal citizens –forcing them into unemployment.

This belief is misguided and not supported by facts. It doesn’t take into account the economic benefits from allowing Dreamers to attend our universities and colleges, to work and pay taxes. According to UCLA Professor Raul Hinojosa, who has led research projects on DACA at the university, the economic contribution to the country by Dreamers – over a 40-year life span – is $3.6 trillion.

This is impressive, particularly given the difficult and tremendous obstacles this group as a whole had to overcome.

On top of being forced to live in the shadows, they have battled bad schools, bad living conditions, no or limited health care, and other deprivations that those who say they are being deprived of jobs have had the benefit of receiving.

Many DACA college graduates worked multiple jobs to pay tuition, only very recently qualifying for financial aid in some states.

We fail to see how they are to blame for unemployment, which in reality should be blamed on the increased use of technology and shipping jobs out of the country.

In a country with over 365 million people, it’s hard believe that 800,000 young people — who have passed criminal background checks and are required to have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent — are overwhelming competition to U.S. citizens.

On the other hand, it’s clear their loss to deportation portends a great loss for badly needed, educators, medical professionals, scientists and human services professionals, as well as maintaining our military superiority.

As for the dubious accusation that former president Barack Obama’s executive action creating DACA is unconstitutional, many great constitutional scholars differ on the validity of the argument.

The U.S. Supreme Court could have the final say on its constitutionality, but it has yet to rule.

We are not going to reiterate the pleas of those who condemn the president’s decision as immoral, cruel and inhumane because those calls have already been heard far and wide with seemingly little impact on the hearts and minds of those who want to deprive the Dreamers’ of the security and benefits received under DACA.

It is our hope, however, that President Trump, Attorney General Sessions and those members of Congress who want to do away with DACA will see that they are jumping over the $460.3 billion DACA recipients contribute to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product for the very small satisfaction they might get from trying to deport them.

DACA’s D-Day: ‘We Vow to Fight’

September 7, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

At press conferences and protests across the country Tuesday, elected officials and immigrant activists lashed out angrily against Pres. Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, vowing to fight to protect its beneficiaries often referred to as Dreamers.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the announcement Tuesday, saying the president has decided to let the program expire in March 2018, giving the Congress 6 months to pass a permanent legislative solution to the plight of undocumented young people whose parents brought them illegally to the U.S. as children and have done nothing wrong.

Sessions said the program started in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama was an unconstitutional “expansion of executive power,” taking authority that belongs to the Congress.

“The legislative branch, not the executive branch, writes these laws — this is the bedrock of our Constitutional system, which I took a solemn oath to preserve, protect, and defend,” said Trump in his official statement.

Under DACA, an estimated 800,000 people who were brought to the country as children – including 220,000 in California – have received a temporary reprieve from deportation, social security number and permission to work legally in the U.S. with a 2-year renewable work permits.

Within minutes of the announcement, supporters of the DACA program began a flurry of news conferences, issuing statements condemning the decision and demanding quick action by the Republican-led Congress to pass legislation to protect Dreamers, fully aware that the legislative body has repeatedly failed to act to reform the country’s immigration laws.

“President Trump has flagrantly sullied our American values and ideals with this decision,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), one of the organizers of a protest rally at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles attended by over a thousand people.

Salas pointed out that “Congress has failed to pass the DREAM Act not once but three times and it has refused to approve comprehensive immigration reform for nearly two decades.

“Will Congress feel compelled this time around to act and approve a clean, stand-alone bill to protect and bring justice to young immigrants and their families? Let’s hope so.”

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, called the president’s decision to rescind the program “outrageous.” She joined her Democratic colleagues for a press conference at the Capitol, where they called on the their Republican fellow members of Congress to work with them to pass legislation before DACA ends.

At a press conference also attended by members of the County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “President Trump’s action on DACA is cruel — it threatens to tear families apart, put our economy at risk, and will do nothing to unify America or make us more secure.”

The mayor also urged congress to act quickly on legislation: “… They belong here. And we’ll fight for them to stay.”

Sup. Hilda Solis said the decision not only puts the future of almost 800,000 DREAMers in danger, but also “the future of almost 65,000 undocumented students who graduate high school every year and could have been supported through DACA.”

“According to the Center for American Progress, DACA beneficiaries will contribute $460.3 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product over the next decade – economic growth that will now be lost,” Solis said in press statement.

In defending the decision, Trump said “Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class and economic fairness for all Americans.”

He noted that officials from 10 states are suing over the program, and his legal advisers have determined that it is “unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.”

Not everyone disagreed with the president’s position.

In a video posted on YouTube, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said “President Trump’s decision helps restore the rule of law and constitutional governance … The Trump administration’s enforcement action on immigration shows the best immigration reform is to finally enforce the law,” he said.

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of Vista, California, said Obama’s unilateral action was just a “temporary Band-aid.” He went on to say that Trump’s action “puts the onus on Congress to address this challenge in the right way: for the long-haul, with respect for our nation’s laws, a desire to enhance the integrity of our borders, and a sense of compassion for those who were brought here in their childhood years ago and wish to stay as productive members of our communities.”

Saying he is “eager to get to work on a permanent fix,” he called on “Democrats and Republicans alike to immediately put political posturing aside and let this be a catalyst to achieve long-overdue reforms in this important area of concern.”

California Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, said the president had acted on a promise he made during his campaign. “Now the real work must begin,” she said, but adding “that will only happen with bipartisan leadership from Congress and the President.” She criticized past Republican and Democratic presidential administrations for failing to pass immigration reform. “Delay and inaction are no longer options,” said Bates.

At a noontime rally in front of City Hall, sporting a red baseball cap with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, Arthur Schaper, a blogger on the website defended the president’s action as the right decision for the country.

At the same rally, Latino Trump supporter Fernando Garcia said Obama should have done things differently because he knew this day would eventually come: “Why did he not make us all citizens back then?” he said.

Immigration rights activists urged DACA supporters to flood legislators with letters and phone calls demanding they act to protect DACA recipients through permanent legislation,

They also reminded DACA recipients, many shaken to the core with fear and uncertainty, that they still have rights and their status, at least for the time being, is unchanged.

According to Ready California, a statewide collaborative working to empower immigrant communities through access to information and legal services, as of Tuesday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stopped accepting initial applications for DACA and will discontinue renewing DACA applications as of March 5, 2018.

“However, DACA recipients’ work permits will continue to be valid until their expiration date. Employers do not have the right to fire DACA recipients unless their work permits have expired,” the group said in an advisory.

Current DACA beneficiaries whose employment authorizations will expire between now and March 5, 2018, only have until Oct. 5 to file a request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

If approved, the renewal is expected to be good for two years, or until 2019. If your permit expires after March 5, 2018, however, USCIS will no longer accept and adjudicate their applications for renewal, effectively ending the authorization to work legally beginning March 6, 2018.

Ready California is advising DACA recipients to consult with an experienced immigration attorney; avoid fraudulent service providers; and to avoid any negative contact with law enforcement.

“Any arrest, charge, or conviction, especially DUI or conduct related to drugs can have negative immigration consequences. Contact with law enforcement can result in exposure to the immigration authorities,” they cautioned.

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