Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi: Trump rescinding DACA was morally, economically wrong. It's up to Congress to pass bipartisan DREAM Act
They say, Dreamers pay taxes, are hard-working teachers in our schools, soldiers in our military and colleagues in our companies
Editor’s Note: Nancy Pelosi is the US House Democratic leader. Charles E. Schumer is the US Senate minority leader. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.
The Trump administration’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was both morally and economically wrong. It was an assault against young people in communities across our country who are American in every way but one – their paperwork – and who embody our nation’s values: patriotism, hard work and perseverance.
President Donald Trump’s decision demands an immediate response from Congress and we are ready to fight harder than ever to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act and give Dreamers the protection they have earned.
When President Barack Obama announced the DACA program in 2012, we made a promise to these young people and we asked them to trust us with their information and their livelihood. Since then, DACA has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrant youth to live, study and work in the country that for many is the only country they know and call home.
Dreamers have greatly contributed to our country. DACA recipients pay approximately $1.2 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes. According to a survey by Tom K. Wong of the University of California, San Diego, United We Dream, the Center for American Progress and the National Immigration Law Center, 91% of DACA recipients are currently working or in school, 65% have purchased their first car and 16% have purchased their first home.
Dreamers are hard-working teachers in our schools, soldiers in our military and colleagues in our companies. That is why nearly 800 business leaders signed onto a letter in support of the DREAM Act. It is also why Microsoft recently said that protecting Dreamers was their number one legislative goal.
Dreamers are our friends, neighbors, and family. One in four DACA recipients has a child who is a US citizen, and three in four DACA recipients have a parent, sibling or spouse who is a US citizen.
In our home communities, there are Dreamers like Jessica and Javier. Jessica was brought to the United States at the age of 2 and did not know she was undocumented until middle school. In 2011, she secured a full-merit scholarship to the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY and started on her journey to becoming a doctor.
Javier studied economics and biotechnology at California State University in Northridge. He worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley and is now a young entrepreneur. What kind of country would we be if we closed the door on Dreamers? What kind of country would we be, if we say that Jessica, Javier, and 800,000 hard-working young people just like them, are not welcome here?
We have both met Dreamers and heard their stories. We know that these young people represent what’s great about our country and they should be allowed to stay. They are an integral part of our communities, and their stories, their tenacity and fearlessness make them as American as apple pie.
Americans throughout the country, regardless of their political affiliation, agree – 93% of Democrats, 81% of independents, and 74% of Republicans say that Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country, including 70% of respondents who approve of Donald Trump’s job performance, according to a CNN poll released this week.
This is not, and should not be, a partisan or political issue. Congress has a duty, and an obligation, to protect these Dreamers. We are ready to work with Republicans to get the bipartisan DREAM Act signed into law.
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President Trump made it clear in our meeting earlier this month that he wants to protect DACA recipients and provide relief to young undocumented immigrants, as well as secure our borders. Democrats reiterated that, while we will review any proposed border security measures, we absolutely will not support increased interior enforcement or building the immoral, ineffective and expensive wall. And with those understandings, we agreed that there is a path forward.
So we say to our colleagues, it is time to act. America cannot turn its back on Dreamers. We must pass the bipartisan DREAM Act to provide the earned path to citizenship these patriotic young men and women deserve.
Then we must resume the vital work of comprehensive immigration reform.