On December 22, sixty-six senators, including 17 Democrats, voted to pass the year-end spending bill without the inclusion of legislative protection for undocumented youth. By voting for a spending bill without the Dream Act, our political leaders BROKE YET ANOTHER PROMISE and voted for the deportation of immigrant youth.
But the fight is not over. Both Republicans and Democrats have committed to bringing the Dream Act—legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth provided they fulfill a laundry list of requirements—to a vote in January. But they’ve made promises before and reneged. We can’t let them off the hook. Lives are on the line.
Every day that Congress delays, another 122 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients lose their work permits, driver’s licenses, and protection from deportation. Since Donald Trump rescinded the program on September 5, about 12,000 DACA recipients have fallen out of status.
The Dream Act of 2017 is bipartisan legislation that would allow around 1.5 million U.S.-raised immigrant youth to earn lawful permanent residence and American citizenship if they:
- Are longtime residents who came to the U.S. as children;
- Graduate from high school or obtain a GED;
- Pursue higher education, work lawfully for at least three years, or serve in the military;
- Pass security and law enforcement background checks and pay a reasonable application fee;
- Demonstrate proficiency in the English language and a knowledge of United States history; and
- Have not committed a felony or other serious crimes and do not pose a threat to our country.
Versions of the Dream Act have been introduced at least ten times before, starting in 2001. They have passed either the House or Senate, but not both in the same Congressional session.
Without legislation like the Dream Act, there is no pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth living in the U.S.
This is not a perfect bill. Language requirements are xenophobic and Black and brown communities are policed more so than white communities, increasing the likelihood of having a criminal record. And, nativists are already attempting to add border enforcement and aim to criminalize the parents of the youth the bill protects. But when we win, we’ll be protecting hundreds of thousands of youth who, as citizens, will continue to fight for everyone left behind.
For this bill to finally pass without anti-migrant amendments, we’ll need heavy, sustained grassroots pressure.
Our partners at United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation, remind us that the only reason we won DACA is because thousands of undocumented youth had the courage to demand it. Let’s make sure we have their backs as they once again move this country forward.
Daily KOS has a petition worthy of signature (see message, below), but nothing replaces a personal letter to your Senators and Congressman. (The message is simple: “Pass a clean DREAM ACT now”.) Sign if you agree: Congress must pass the Dream Act. Join us for a postcard campaign in support of the DREAM ACT on Friday, 3/23 between 4:00 and 6:30 PM at Brevard Brewing Company. Drop in to write a card (supplied) and perhaps share a beer and conversation.
The Dream Act is prudent legislation that creates a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth raised in the U.S. They are a vital part of our communities and are American in every way except citizenship status. Every day Congress fails to pass a legislative solution, 122 more immigrant youth become vulnerable to deportation. We’re out of time. Pass the Dream Act NOW.