Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Dreamers urge for protections in Senate hearing on immigrant youth

By 37ci3 May8,2024



As immigration policies take center stage in the nation’s political debate and the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program remains uncertainsenators hold hearings on wednesday”the urgent need to protect immigrant youth“, referring to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

1,636 scholars and graduates participated on this occasion TheDream.USAn organization that helps DACA recipients and other undocumented immigrant youth, known as Dreamers, attend college, to sign a letter urging Congress to “give us the opportunity to continue on the path to naturalization of the United States.”

“Such action will provide certainty to our families and communities and strengthen our nation’s economy by ensuring the future of a vital, vibrant workforce,” the letter, first shared with NBC News, said.

other organizations such as evangelical and study groups they also shared letters of support before the hearing.

Gaby Pacheco, education leader and president of TheDream.US, is one of five witnesses to testify in court. He championed a bill that would give young immigrant adults who have spent most of their lives in the United States a path to legalization. anything that surveys showed has wide support.

“The reality is, more than ever, without bipartisanship, we can’t get anything done,” Pacheco told NBC News in a phone interview before testifying.

But achieving much-needed bipartisanship may be more difficult now than ever, said Pacheco, a former DACA recipient who has advocated for Dreamers his entire life.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Dick Durbin opened the hearing by focusing on the contributions of Dreamers and DACA recipients. Ranking member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., responded that fixing DACA is “not my concern right now” because his priority is to fix the “complete, complete disaster” that has plagued the border and US immigration policies.

Graham added that legalizing Dreamers sends a message to others to “keep coming” and will make the current immigration crisis worse.

Durbin responded to Graham by saying it was unfair to hold “these young people responsible for your concern,” adding that DACA recipients undergo extensive background checks and become exceptional workers.

The senators’ differing positions are both a departure from their bipartisan efforts just a year ago. The Dream Act of 2023this would allow Dreamers to gain legal permanent residency.

Immigration has increasingly become a flashpoint for politicians on both sides of the aisle in the run-up to November’s presidential election, with Republicans pointing to select samples of the overwhelmingly undocumented noncitizens. accused of murder and other serious crimes push for tougher immigration policies, while Democrats decry such efforts and count them out. “cheap” political tactics.

according to National Institute of Justice Department of Justice“Recent studies show that immigrants (legal or illegal) are not more likely to commit crimes in the United States, and may even be less likely.”

“I think it’s very sad and tragic what’s happening in the country when a very small, small population of people who do bad things are brought to the fore to scare everyday Americans about who immigrants are,” said Pacheco, who has since been in the United States after immigrating with her family from Ecuador. He was 8 years old.

That dynamic was reflected in the pool of witnesses who testified before the Senate, including Tammy Nobles, the mother of slain 20-year-old Kayla Hamilton. sued the federal government claims in January It allowed an undocumented teenager linked to a gang accused of Hamilton’s murder to come into the country..

After recounting the heartbreaking events that led to her daughter’s death, Nobles said, “Not all immigrants seek the American dream. “Some are criminals who want to harm American lives.”

More than a decade of DACA – and uncertainty about his future

More than 800,000 Young adults DACA was first introduced as an executive action by then-President Barack Obama in 2012, allowing those brought to the United States as children and without legal immigration status to work and study without fear of deportation. Moment The vast majority of DACA recipients were born in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Then-President Donald Trump tried to shut down the program, although it was stopped by the courts. A series of lawsuits challenging DACA led by Republican-led states they continue to go through the court.

Moment It is estimated that there are 400,000 young people Those eligible to apply for DACA have been locked out of the program since 2021, after a federal judge ordered it suspended for new enrollees amid ongoing legal challenges.

In addition to Nobles and Pacheco, other witnesses included Mitchell Soto-Rodriguez, a DACA-affiliated Illinois police officer, and two immigration policy experts.

In her testimony, Soto-Rodriguez said she became a police officer after being inspired by an officer who “showed compassion” when Soto-Rodriguez was an undocumented teenager when she and her mother responded to a car accident.

After receiving DACA, Soto-Rodriguez learned she was still ineligible to apply to become an officer. But when her town’s police chief heard her story, it inspired her to advocate for changes to the law that would allow DACA recipients to become police officers.

Irving Hernandez, 20, one of hundreds of TheDream.US scholars and alumni who signed the organization’s letter to Congress, is among those who have been removed from DACA in recent years.

A junior at Metropolitan State University Denver, Hernandez is studying health psychology and aspires to pursue a career helping people struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma and other mental health issues.

“I want to be that big catalyst for change,” he said.

Hernandez said he asked lawmakers to “give Dreamers an opportunity to succeed, because we really don’t have that opportunity.”

That’s what DACA supporters say is one of the most successful policies for immigrant integration.

Since DACA began in 2012, recipients contributed $108 billion in wages to the economy, including $33 billion in combined taxes, FWD.us, a bipartisan group that supports immigration reform. Most DACA recipients are young adults who have lived in the United States for more than 16 years.

A longtime advocate trying to bridge the political divide on Dreamer legislation, Pacheco recalled testifying at a congressional hearing a decade ago, shortly before he became a DACA recipient. Now he sits in front of the senators like someone who could become a US citizen after being funded by her husband, Pacheco said she hopes to share her life story with them, show the success of the DACA program, and bring attention to immigrant youth who have been turned away from the program.



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