Latino Memphis Joins Call for Congress to Act Before the Holidays
Last week, Latino Memphis, one of UnidosUS’s Tennessee Affiliates, hosted a panel discussion titled “The Future of DACA.” At the event, six Memphis-area college presidents signed on to a letter to Tennessee Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, as well as Congressman David Kustoff, who represents the city, urging them to support a legislative solution for DREAMers by the end of the year.
Nearly 300 people attended to hear about how Trump administration’s September decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will impact their community and all communities across the United States in the months to come.
DACA provided young immigrants with temporary deferral of removal for two years, as well as a renewable work permit, enabling many to attend college or support their families.
As fans across the country watch the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s hard to miss that America’s pastime is one of the most diverse sports leagues in the nation.
And it is fitting that the two teams vying for the championship represent cities whose vibrancy is equally powered by the strength of that diversity and the contributions of immigrants.
Among the teams’ fans and in the cities they call home, there are thousands of immigrants who have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), as well as young immigrants who have grown up here and are eligible for the recently rescinded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
In Los Angeles, there are more than 34,000 TPS holders from El Salvador and Honduras, and 123,000 young people eligible for DACA.
In Houston, there are more than 23,000 Temporary Protected Status holders from Honduras and El Salvador and 44,000 young people immediately eligible for DACA.
Like baseball, these individuals are as American as apple pie. But recent and potential decisions by the Trump administration and Congress could put their futures at risk.
On September 5, the president announced that he would rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Since 2012, DACA has provided hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth with opportunities to get an education and a good job without fear of deportation. The president’s announcement suddenly placed the lives of nearly 800,000 workers, students, and homeowners in the United States in limbo. Now, gains that these young immigrants were able to make due to the program are in jeopardy.
Homeownership is one of the many gains DACA recipients have achieved since the program began. In a 2015 survey of more than 1,700 DACA recipients, more than half reported getting their first credit card, and 12 percent had a mortgage or had their name on their family’s lease. DACA opened up opportunities for young immigrants to establish a formal record of work and credit history with a social security number, which they used to help them qualify for a loan to buy their first home. For DACA homeowners, their first home purchase was a dream shared by their families, and an important step towards financial stability and building family wealth.
If you haven’t heard by now, the president announced earlier this month that his administration would be rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The program, which for five years has transformed the lives of nearly 800,000 young people is no longer accepting new applications. However, when the administration announced that the program would begin to ‘wind down’ over a period of six months, they also shared that all current DACA recipients whose status and work permit would expire between September 5 (when the decision to end the program was announced) and March 5, 2018 (the date when the program, absent action by Congress, will end), are currently eligible to renew their DACA as long as their renewal application is received by the Department of Homeland Security prior to October 5.
UnidosUS is actively engaged in working on a legislative solution to this terrible problem the president has created, but if you’re a DACA recipient who needs to renew, we strongly urge you to do so now. Don’t delay. There will likely be no extension granted, so it’s imperative that you get your renewal application in before the deadline. And, our Affiliate Network is ready to help you do that.
A potential deal between Democrats and the president over how to fix DACA may have been announced late last night, but that didn’t stop hundreds of Latino activists, community leaders, and advocates from marching and rallying at the White House today to tell the Trump administration that on DACA and a host of other issues, “enough was enough.”
UnidosUS joined the rally, organized by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, to join the call that our community will no longer tolerate the racist rhetoric that has become a defining feature of this young administration.
You too can join the action to show your solidarity with DREAMers. To start, go to unidos.us/heretostay and take our pledge to stand with DREAMers. When you do, you’ll become part of a growing network of advocates who are working to fight back against the forces of hate and bigotry.
By Carlos A. Guevara, Senior Policy Advisor, UnidosUS
For the past five years, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a lawful and incredibly successful program, has transformed the lives of nearly 800,000 undocumented youth who came to the United States as young children. President Trump’s decision to end DACA means that hundreds of thousands of young people are now relying on Congress to come up with a bipartisan solution in order to ensure that they are not thrust back into the shadows.
By Carlos A. Guevara, Senior Policy Advisor, UnidosUS
Today, more than 250,000 TPSeanos from Central American are at risk of losing their protected status. In the next five months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected statues, or TPS, designations for the Central American countries. There is no official position by the administration with respect to the future of TPS designation for these countries, but recent remarks by senior officials do not bode well for the continued long-term future of protected status for these countries, even though major violence and human rights violations associated with civil strife in their home countries make it unsafe for them to return.
TPS beneficiaries are integral members of our communities. According to a July 2017 report by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), TPS beneficiaries from the three largest TPS countries by population have an estimated 273,000 U.S.-born children, and 10% of Salvadoran and 6% Honduran TPS beneficiaries are married to legal residents. The report also finds that 87% of the TPS population from these countries speaks at least some English, and slightly over half speak English well, very well, or only English.
In the month headed into Congress’s August recess, much of the attention in the immigration space has been correctly focused on protecting the DACA policy that shields nearly 800,000 youth from deportation, pushing back on the Trump budget proposal, which would take funding for deportations to unprecedented levels, and picking up the pieces from the painful effects and consequences of the ramped-up interior enforcement on predominantly Latino immigrant families. Not to be lost in the shuffle, however, is another very important issue percolating in the not-too-distant background. Within the next six months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected status (TPS) designations that could impact over a quarter of a million Latinos from Central America, some of whom have been residing in the United States for nearly 20 years.
TPS is a humanitarian tool established by legislation giving the executive branch a way to provide temporary status to some of the most vulnerable populations in the country. Under TPS, people already residing in the United States may be designated for protection due to an ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or presence of extraordinary and temporary condition in their country of origin. TPS beneficiaries are eligible to work legally in the country and may apply to travel abroad for so long as the U.S. government determines that protected status continues to be warranted—a decision that is typically assessed 18 months after an initial designation or a preceding TPS extension.
Yesterday, Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R–Fla) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D–Calif.) co-introduced the “DREAM Act” in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow young immigrants brought to the country as small children the opportunity to earn permanent residency and ultimately American citizenship. Today, many DREAMers are shielded under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, but the Trump White House has indicated the policy stands on shaky ground, causing many of these young people to live in fear of deportation. A Senate version of the bill was introduced last week by Senators Dick Durbin (D–Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.).
“This bipartisan effort lead by Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Roybal-Allard to help young DREAMers remain in the country they love and have contributed to with their talents and hard work, should be applauded. At perhaps the most partisan and politically divisive time in modern history, it is encouraging to see members of both parties working together to do what is right by these young people and what’s in the best interests of our country,” said UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía. “DACA youth are an integral part of our communities—they are doctors, students, engineers and educators, and their contributions are impactful, in fact, estimates show that ending DACA would result in an estimated GDP loss of $433.4 billion over the next 10 years.”
On July 20, 2017, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act of 2017. This is the latest iteration of this important piece of legislation, which has historically enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress. UnidosUS is encouraged by this most recent effort to reach across the aisle and once again attempt a meaningful, bipartisan solution for the many DREAMers living in our communities and making significant contributions to our nation.
The news comes at an important time. Last week we wrote about renewed threats to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy following a meeting between the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the administration’s top immigration enforcer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. The meeting followed a letter sent by 10 attorneys general threatening to present a legal challenge to DACA unless the administration takes steps to unwind the policy on their own accord. The Trump administration has until September 5 to decide on how it will respond.