President Donald Trump is poised to make a decision next Tuesday on the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which offers protection from deportation as well as work authorization for some undocumented immigrants brought to America as children. DACA was implemented by the Obama administration in 2012 and enjoys broad popular support, but Trump campaigned on a platform that included repealing the measure.
Although Trump has since suggested he supports DACA, hard-line Republicans insist that Trump should stick to his campaign promises, and the state attorneys of nine Republican-stronghold states have threatened to sue the president if he doesn’t act by next Tuesday to end DACA. (Originally, Tennessee had also threatened to sue, but today Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III sent a letter rescinding the state’s inclusion in the threat.)
Immigration activists have spent the last week launching a nationwide campaign to attempt to save DACA (broadly referred to as #DefendDACA), as well as TPS — a program that protects undocumented immigrants from deportation to countries where they would face imminent physical danger if returned. One such group is NAKASEC, which earlier this month launched a 22-day, 24hr vigil in front of the White House to protect DACA and Asian American Dreamers registered under the program, as well as to protect TPS. (A live feed of the White House action can be viewed between 10am and 8pm EST here.)
Approximately 800,000 young people are registered under DACA, including at least 18,000 immigrants who arrived from Asian countries. Dreamers represent more than 6% of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America, none of whom deserve to be subjected to criminalization, state detention, and forcible removal by the federal government.
Yesterday, as the deadline for DACA’s fate draws ever nearer, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) joined the actions outside the White House, and held a press conference to lend their support to the broad, bipartisan call to #DefendDACA. Said Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), the chair of CAPAC:
“Over the past five years, the DACA program has enabled nearly 800,000 young people who were brought to the United States as children to come out of the shadows. This includes many Asians and Pacific Islanders who have been able to go to school, attain work permits, and pursue their dreams. All of our DACA recipients have passed rigorous background checks to participate in the program. And they are American in every sense of the word except on paper.
“Unfortunately, President Trump has threatened to end the DACA program as we know it. But we will fight back. I want our DREAMers to know that there are members of Congress who support you and who will continue to fight to protect DACA and to fix our broken immigration system.
“We will not allow our immigrant communities to be trampled upon. I want our DACA recipients and our TPS recipients to know that we support you. Together, we will fight to protect our immigrant communities and ensure that America continues to remain the land of opportunity for all!”
Several other members of CAPAC — including Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33), Representative Ami Bera (CA-07), Representative Doris Matsui (CA-06), Representative Grace Meng (NY-06), Representative Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Representative Joseph Crowley (NY-14), Representative Keith Ellison (MN-05), Representative Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Representative Scott Peters (CA-52), Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Representative Adam Smith (WA-09), and Representative Nydia Velazquez (NY-07) — also issued individual statements in support of DACA at yesterday’s CAPAC press conference.
CAPAC has taken a strong stance in support of DACA for several years since the program was first implemented. In 2015, Chu said on behalf of CAPAC that she “urged the Supreme Court to resolve ongoing litigation surrounding [DACA and DAPA] and bring relief to millions of aspiring Americans,” while she also reiterated that CAPAC was “committed to passing commonsense legislation to fix our broken immigration system.” In June of this year, Chu reiterated CAPAC’s support of DACA in a statement saying:
[B]y rescinding DAPA and continuing to build a mass deportation force, the Trump Administration continues to generate fear and anxiety within our immigrant communities. If this Administration truly cares about immigrant families, they must stop pursuing xenophobic and hateful policies that do not reflect our widely-shared values as a nation. Instead, we must take more substantive steps to ensure that we keep families together and work toward a permanent solution to fix our broken immigration system.
You can help join the fight to Defend DACA by taking part in actions organized by NAKASEC to protect Dreamers, as well as a few other actions:
- Sign this petition demanding that DACA be made permanent US policy.
- Share your story about how DACA and TPS have helped you, your family and your community.
- Donate to NAKASEC’s Dream Action vigil happening right now in front of the White House.
- Share your support of DACA and TPS to the hashtags: #DefendDACA and #SaveTPS
- Identify and contact your Congressional representatives, and urge them to speak out in defense of DACA.
- Register to vote and commit to voting against any elected official who has taken a stance against DACA.
Correction: An earlier version of this post reported that there are nearly 30,000 registered Dreamers from Asian countries, however there is now some questions surrounding how to interpret numbers published in the USCIS report from which that tally was originally drawn. As such, this post has been corrected with a more conservative — but likely more accurate — number of at least 18,000 registered Dreamers from Asian countries. I apologize for any confusion.