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DACA recipients, advocates, legal experts pushing for clean passage of DREAM Act

Recipients of DACA — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — and advocates are “laser-focused” getting the DREAM Act passed with no strings attached, according to a media teleconference Friday.

“That is the line that we’re holding,” said Greisa Martinez Rosas, a DACA-recipient and Advocacy Director of United We Dream.

President Donald Trump’s administration announced earlier this month that it would end DACA, which has protected nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children from being deported.

In the past couple days, however, it’s been reported that Trump is brokering a deal with Democrats to back away from his plan to deport such individuals.

Itzel Guillen, a border Dreamer and Immigration Integration Manager with Alliance San Diego, said that exchanging border enforcement for the passage of the DREAM Act means increased deportation risks for communities and loved ones.

“This is a sinister form of blackmail that trades our safety for that of our loved ones and the rest of our community,” said Guillen, who is also a member of the Southern Border Communities Coalition.

Several representatives from organizations spoke Thursday about the latest state of play of immigration policy in the U.S., including litigation of the termination of the DACA program.

“We absolutely continue to calling on both Democratic and Republican leaders to have the same courage that these immigrant youth leaders in our country have and to do the job that they have been elected for and pass a bipartisan DREAM Act,” said Marielena Hincapié, Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). “There’s absolutely no reason for us to be throwing more taxpayer money, wasting money, when our border is already so secure.”

The NILC represents a man from New York who is suing over the termination of DACA and Hincapié said the first hearing was promising with the judge showing a thorough understanding of the legal issues.

“We believe that we have momentum,” she said. “We know that we’re on the right side of justice and the right side of history and we are urging our policymakers to have that same level of courage.”

Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fun, said the outcome of the DREAM Act debate will be a huge moment in American history, as well as in the lives of Dreamers.

“Are we going to be the generation that turned on American kids who have done everything that’s been asked of them and put them in harm’s way, throw them out of the country that they grew up in where their dreams are made in America to the countries that they don’t even remember?” he asked. “This could go down as one of the darkest chapters in American history, certainly in terms of immigration policy, akin to turning back Jewish refugees in the 1930s, akin to the deportation of Mexicans in the 1930s and 1950s, even akin to the use of concentration camps for Japanese Americans.”

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