Who is a DREAMer?

DREAMers have known no country other than the United States, and should have the same opportunities as their friends and neighbors.

Dream Act Now youth | Dreamer

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

During President Trump’s State of the Union, he stated that “Americans are dreamers, too.” This is a cynical attempt to co-opt the term “DREAMer” which describes a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DREAM—not Dream or dream—stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, which has failed to make its way through Congress several times since 2001, most recently in 2013. DREAM would have offered undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children legal permanent residency.

In 2013, as Congress failed to pass another version of the DREAM Act, President Obama created the DACA program. Under DACA, nearly 800,000 young immigrants who came to the United States as undocumented children received a two-year, renewable deferral of deportation and work permit.

These young immigrants were required to to be strictly vetted. This included undergoing criminal and security screenings and additional checks every 24 months. This is in addition to a number of other strict requirements, including having to be younger than 16 when they arrived in the United States and having proof that they have been living in the country continuously since June 15, 2007.

These are the young people known as “DREAMers.”

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This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending July 25

Immigration_reform_Updates_blueWeek Ending July 25, 2014

This week in immigration reform: The NCLR Annual Conference featured sessions on immigration and unaccompanied children; Congress continues to debate how to address the humanitarian emergency at the Southern border; and Representatives take a vote to take away a tax credit from vulnerable families. NCLR kept the community informed in a number of media appearances this week, with staff quoted in stories on MSNBC, Huffington Post, and appearing on the program Jose Diaz Balart which broadcast live outside the Conference.

  • Immigration and Unaccompanied Children were focus of presentations at the NCLR Annual Conference. For four days in Los Angeles, leaders from across the country discussed topics important to the Latino community, including immigration and the humanitarian emergency at the Southern border. From Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, (D-IL-4), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) conference participants heard about the benefits of passing immigration reform, the need for President Obama to act and provide administrative relief, and the need for a compassionate response for the children who are fleeing violence in Central America. NCLR Affiliate, Southwest Key Programs, presented on the work they are doing providing care and shelter to unaccompanied children. Check out the NCLR Blog for photos and summaries of the successful conference!

Rep. Luis Gutierrez addresses the NCLR Annual Conference in Los Angeles

  • Congress continues to debate how to respond to the humanitarian emergency at the Southern border. The House and Senate continue to have discussions on how to proceed with the President’s request for supplemental funds to respond to the children and families fleeing violence in Central America. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) penned an op-ed articulating the need to protect the children and keep the protections that they have under current law.  As he writes, “we must not repeal the law that offers them protection. We must enforce it and provide the administration with the funding necessary to better address both the domestic and international aspects of this crisis.”

Children at the NCLR Family Expo wrote letters to children fleeing violence as part of the They Are Children campaign

The House of Representatives voted this week to take away a tax credit from vulnerable families. Instead of attempting to improve their failing score on immigration, the House Republican leadership allowed a vote on Friday afternoon that would expand the Child Tax Credit for higher income families, while denying taxpaying immigrant workers with families who use an ITIN for filing from accessing the credit. HR 4935 passed 237-173 despite opposition from the administration: “ H.R. 4935 would immediately eliminate the Child Tax Credit for millions of American children whose parents immigrated to this country, including U.S. citizen children and “Dreamers,” and would push many of these children into or deeper into poverty.”  Click here to see roll call vote 451 and see how your Representative voted on this legislation that would harm hardworking immigrant families. Tune in on Monday as NCLR and Latino, AAPI, faith, and labor organizations issue the final CIR Scores by following #CIRScores.

RECLAIMING “USA!, USA! USA!” FROM THE BIGOTS IN MURRIETA

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

However you feel about the immigration issue, the sight of angry protesters in Murrieta, California screaming “go back to where you come from” and shouting other invectives to a busload of children and their moms has to make you queasy. It sickened me. But what also made me angry was that the protestors, to justify taunting a group of defenseless kids, grotesquely cloaked their hatred in “patriotism” by chanting “USA!, USA! USA!” over and over again. I remember one of the first times I proudly joined with my fellow Americans in that chant when the U.S. Hockey Team pulled off its improbable win over the Soviets at the 1980 Olympics. So on this Fourth of July, I want to reclaim “USA! USA! USA!” on behalf of the vast majority of Americans and the values we hold dear back from that mob of hate in Murrieta.

There is nothing more un-American than showing not even one shred of sympathy, compassion, or even decency towards a group of desperate young children who showed up on our doorstep after having spent weeks on a treacherous journey. There is nothing more un-American than deliberately frightening an already traumatized group of kids, some still in diapers. There is nothing more un-American than a mob taking the law into their own hands and preventing authorities from doing the work of processing these refugees. What we saw was not patriotism –— it was ugly, divisive, and yet another low for a debate that I thought could not get much lower.

But I reserved my greatest scorn for the Mayor of Murrieta, Alan Long. It was he who incited his constituents to protest and let law enforcement look the other way. It was he who recklessly demagogued the issue to spare himself a political problem and is now crying crocodile tears about the “black eye” media coverage has given his town. He took an epic, immensely complicated humanitarian situation that involves broken policymaking both in Central America and in the U.S. and pointed the finger of blame at a bus full of little kids and babies.

What is so craven about Long’s “blame the victim” strategy is that he and the anti-immigrant extremists he unleashed not only blocked a couple of buses, they continue to block every single attempt at a humane and effective solution by reasonable policymakers on both sides of the aisle. Egged on by shameless demagogues like Long at the local level and lawmakers like Rep. Steve King (R-–IA) at the national level, the small but loud anti-immigrant movement like the one on display in Murrieta is the single biggest reason we do not yet have comprehensive immigration reform.

This week we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a law that helped America finally live up to its values when it came to all Americans regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or creed. That legislation was also unconscionably delayed by another small but powerful group of people who were on the wrong side of history. The leaders of the civil rights movement had to fight hard and but also long to overcome them, but they did. And they were joined in that struggle by a dedicated and tireless group of bipartisan Senators and Congressmen and a courageous President. Fifty years later, there is no doubt in my mind that in the America I know and love we can do it again.