The Clock is Ticking, Congress. It’s Time to Pass a Clean Dream Act Now.
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published on the National Immigration Law Center’s blog, The Torch, on October 5.
The normal day-to-day existence that most of us tend to take for granted now has an expiration date for almost 800,000 young immigrants.
For these hundreds of thousands of young people, the day their DACA expires is the day their jobs, schooling, and security could go up in smoke. It’s the day they will become vulnerable to being deported to a country they may not even have a memory of.
Oct. 5 marks the arbitrary deadline set by the Trump administration for those DACA recipients whose DACA will expire between Sept. 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, to apply to renew it. What this means is that, for people not lucky enough to have a DACA expiration date sometime within that arbitrary six-month window, their DACA will expire as early as March 6, 2018. For DACAmented folks who may have been eligible to file a renewal application by today’s deadline but weren’t able, for whatever reasons, to file one, their DACA could expire sooner than that.
For those who might have been eligible to renew, this was their last chance at temporary hope. Two years (the amount of time for which DACA is granted) may not seem like a long time, but for many it may be the difference between finishing a degree or not. Many states have passed in-state tuition laws that don’t exclude students from eligibility based simply on their immigration status; but not all have. The reality is that many students have to work to pay for school tuition and board-and-room. Losing their ability to work—their jobs, their work authorization—will make college unaffordable for many thousands of young people, putting it out of reach. Worse still, some states, such as Alabama and South Carolina, completely bar undocumented immigrants from enrolling in their public colleges and universities.
For those who are out of school and working full time, two more years with DACA may mean two more years of being covered by health insurance through their job. It may mean two more years of even having a job. When a person’s DACA expires, their work permit expires. And their life changes—drastically. They lose affordable access to health care. They are pushed out of whatever successful situation they’ve built for themselves and back into uncertainty, doubt, and fear.
Immigrant youth are everywhere, in every type of job. They’re teachers, doctors, software developers, dental hygienists, nurses, salespeople, engineers, accountants, truck drivers, first responders—and the list goes on and on. Chances are you know a Dreamer whose clock is now ticking.
That’s why there’s no time to waste: A permanent solution for Dreamers must be created now. We need a bill that does nothing but clean up the mess the administration made when it pulled the rug out from under Dreamers. This bill already exists. It’s called the Dream Act, and it’s the best legislative solution. It is a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would provide a pathway to permanent residency and eventual citizenship.
Any bill that uses Dreamers as a bargaining chip for a border wall or other draconian enforcement measures is not acceptable, nor is a bill that leaves Dreamers’ families behind and forces them to sign away their due process rights. Immigrant youth need a clean Dream Act, and they need it now. The bill is ready to go in both the House and Senate, waiting on Congress to take action and bring it to a vote.
So call your members of Congress, show up to rallies, and share Dreamers’ stories on social media and in your everyday conversations There’s no time to waste. We simply can’t let all those dreams expire.
Learn how you can join the fight for Dreamers at weareheretostay.org.