DACA Rollback: Groups Pledge to Help Dreamers, Push for Legislative Solution

The controversial decision by President Donald Trump puts Dreamers in a challenging position, but a variety of groups have pledged to support and assist the 800,000 children of undocumented immigrants affected by the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The Trump administration’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has a wide variety of groups speaking out.

The decision to roll back Obama’s executive order, which the administration said was sparked by the threat of lawsuits from conservative state governments over the legality of the order, came with a six-month enforcement delay pending potential action by Congress to address the plight of an estimated 800,000 children of immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally years ago.  (Since the decision was announced, 15 states and the District of Columbia have sued to block Trump’s move.)

Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle must immediately come together—right now—and pass a bipartisan Dream Act: 800,000 lives are at stake.

“There is nothing compassionate about the failure to enforce immigration laws,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Tuesday.

The decision to end DACA put considerable pressure on so-called Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. as children or overstayed visas, but enrolled in the program on the promise of legal protection from deportation and the opportunity to remain in the U.S. to study and work. With their plight now uncertain, a variety of associations spoke out this week, including ASAE.

In a statement, ASAE noted the harmful economic ramifications that would follow from the loss of thousands of diverse employees from the workforce.

“ASAE believes strongly that a diverse workforce is not only an undeniable demographic trend, it’s a vital means of ensuring more creative and innovative thinking to address work challenges,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “ASAE and associations in general are designed to bring people together for a common purpose. ASAE firmly believes that a more diverse workforce is a more qualified, productive workforce. For these reasons, we ask that Congress and the administration work together in the best interests of the country to find a legislative solution before DACA expires.”

Among groups speaking up in other sectors:

The tech world. Soon after Sessions’ statement, the pro-immigration group FWD.us, which was cofounded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and is backed by a large tech contingent, spoke out against Trump’s decision. Like ASAE and others, it called on Congress to create a more permanent solution to the problem. “What this decision makes abundantly clear is that congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle must immediately come together—right now—and pass a bipartisan Dream Act: 800,000 lives are at stake,” the group’s president, Todd Schulte, said.

Immigration lawyers. The American Immigration Lawyers Association released a guide explaining the practical effects of the decision for Dreamers, as well as warning against scams. Some key points from the document: DACA applications aren’t being accepted but are being processed, and two-year renewals are still being offered as long as the expiration date falls on or before March 5, 2018. AILA recommends that DACA participants talk to a lawyer. “You may be eligible for another type of status,” the guide states, estimating that “up to 30 percent of people screened for DACA were eligible for something better and more permanent.”

Universities and higher education groups. Before the White House announcement this week, associations in the higher education field sent a letter to the president asking him to keep DACA intact until a permanent solution was in place. Now many of those groups, along with the universities they represent, are pledging to stand behind Dreamers by offering financial and legal help. “Many of our institutions and their leaders feel like that, as a nation, we don’t break promises,” Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman said in comments to MarketWatch. “These are students who want to make something of themselves and contribute to the U.S. economy.”

Protesters in support of DACA at last year's Republican National Convention. (vichinterlang/iStock Editorial/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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