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‘Dreamers’ Begin the Year with no Dream Act

January 4, 2018

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Exactly four months after the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was rescinded, those who benefited from the Obama-era program, known as Dreamers, continue to face uncertainty about their future in the country.

When President Donald Trump ended DACA on Sept. 5, he shared that Congress would have to find a way to legalize the program, which was created by then President Barack Obama through an executive order.

Since then, several activists and officials have been working to encourage DACA allies in Congress to vote against any government spending bill that does not include a permanent fix for the thousands of Dreamers who currently reside in the United States.

DACA allowed young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as minors to have protection from deportation and the ability to work legally.

From the original deadline of Dec. 8 to agree on a spending bill, Congress has extended the deadline several times and has now moved it to Jan. 19.

Trump on Friday, Dec. 29 shared that in order for Democrats to achieve a solution for those affected by the termination of DACA, they would have to compromise on the wall and other immigration policies.

“The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL (sic) at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc.,” he tweeted on his personal account on Friday.

Attaching the topic of the funding for the construction of the wall and immigration policies to an already unresolved issue, is something that immigration and criminal defense attorney Dulce Garcia sees as using Dreamer’s stories as leverage.

Garcia is also one of the 800,000 Dreamers in the U.S., and has been actively using her voice and working to encourage Democrats and Republican representatives to support a clean Dream Act.

On Dec. 18, Garcia organized a vigil in honor of Dreamers that were arrested while attempting to encourage representatives to vote no on a bill that did not have a solution for Dreamers. She also fasted for a week to encourage Senator Dianne Feinstein to pledge to vote, which she did on the seventh day.

“Sad that we have to put our bodies on the line, get arrested and fast, to move these people who say they are our our side but not their actions,” Garcia said.

She said that individuals and activists who support a clean Dream Act were able to convince 30 senators to vote against a spending bill that does not include a clean Dream Act and they will continue to work on encouraging both Democrats and Republicans.

Trump on Tuesday, Jan. 2, tweeted that Democrats are not doing anything for DACA and that they are only interested in politics.

“DACA activists and Hispanics will go hard against Dems, will start “falling in love” with Republicans and their President! We are about RESULTS (sic),” he wrote.

However, Garcia does not see herself “falling in love” with him anytime soon.

She said he is the one who created the crisis by ending DACA without a plan or bill in place.

“Our president is incorrect even if there is a path for citizenship with the Dream Act, we will remember,” Garcia said.

Even if a Dream Act is passed, it will not be because of his “good heart” it will be a result of the work and efforts of those who are rallying, fasting, and getting arrested for the cause, she said.

To date, close to 13,000 Dreamers have lost their status due to expired work permits or lack of the ability to apply or reapply, Garcia said.

She said she is concerned because the process of implementation is not something that occurs from one day to the next and that gap could leave Dreamers unprotected.

On Wednesday, Jan. 3, three former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security sent a letter encouraging action on DACA by congressional members emphasizing that a decision should be made in the middle of January to avoid a “large scale loss of work authorization and deportation protection.”

The letter, published on Jan. 3 by The New York Times was signed by Jeh Johnson, Janet Napolitano, and Michael Chertoff, all former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security.

According to the letter, in 2012 it took nearly 90 days for the first applications to be approved when DACA was established.

“To ensure a successful implementation of DACA legislation, Congress should pass bipartisan legislation in the next few weeks to allow these young people to continue to fully contribute to this country,” the letter reads.

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