Senate Democrats Want a Vote on Permanent Citizenship Solution for Dreamers

June 25, 2020 by Sara Wilkerson
Senate Democrats Want a Vote on Permanent Citizenship Solution for Dreamers
Protesters rally on the steps of the Supreme Court to Defend DACA. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON – The Senate Democratic caucus has sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, urging him to bring the bipartisan American Dream and Promise Act, which grants citizenship to so-called dreamers and certain other classes of immigrants, to the Senate floor for a vote.

The caucus letter was delivered to McConnell in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this month that President Donald Trump had violated the Administrative Procedures Act in his attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, better known as DACA.

The letter-writing effort was spearheaded by Senate Democratic Whip and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who originally authored the Dream and Promise Act. 

The letter’s central argument is that while the Supreme Court’s ruling granted a temporary reprieve to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, who, the authors state, “are American in every way except for their immigration status,” their ultimate fate is still very much unknown.”

The writers go on to note that the Dreamers — a population composed of individuals brought into the United States illegally when they were children — currently serve the country as “soldiers, nurses, teachers, and small business owners, and in many other ways.” 

They also point out that an estimated 41,700 Dreamers work in the healthcare field, placing them on the front lines of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter urges, “Congress must take action to ensure these essential workers are not deported to countries they barely remember even as our nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was announced by President Barack Obama in 2012.

It allows young people brought to the United States as children to apply for a temporary status that shields them from deportation and allows them to work. The status lasts for two years and is renewable, but it does not provide a path to citizenship.

Thursday’s ruling was a blow to President Trump as it derails one of his main campaign promises from 2016: that he would immediately terminate the program by executive order.

Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., wrote the majority opinion, calling this action “arbitrary and capricious.”

President Trump wasted no time responding to the decision via Twitter.

“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” he wrote.”We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!”

The Senate Democrats picked up the political gauntlet Trump threw down, reminding McConnell in this election year that he has yet to bring “a single immigration bill to the floor of the Senate.”

“It’s not too late to change course,” they said.

“It would be an American tragedy to deport DACA recipients who are saving lives in the midst of this pandemic,” the authors concluded. “We must ensure these talented young immigrants are not forced to stop working when the need for their public service has never been greater. And we must give them the chance they deserve to become American citizens.” 

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  • DACA
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
  • Dick Durbin
  • Dreamers
  • Mitch McConnell
  • U.S. Senate
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