Former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order is still considered by many Democrats to be one of the most significant pieces of law enacted during the administration’s second term, though its effectiveness may be coming to an end sooner than anyone initially expected. The DACA executive order and the program it created are directly tied to the issue of illegal immigration—one of the most contentious issues in the current American political climate. The Dreamers are the class of people the DACA executive order seeks to protect; these are young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally when they were children. President Trump, while in office, has said “We love the Dreamers. We think the Dreamers are terrific.” On the 2016 campaign trail, however, Mr. Trump would go on at length about how deportation of the Dreamers was necessary. Democrats have long been ardent supporters of the Dreamers, and many Democrat lawmakers have made advocacy for the Dreamers their key political position. In the following sections, an explanation of what DACA is will be given, followed by a few brief summaries of what high-ranking Democrats think about the DACA issue.
What is DACA?
Before the Trump administration decided to end the DACA program, DACA afforded young undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children, with many protections, the most notable being a two-year period of deferred action from deportation; DACA recipients also became eligible for work permits in the United States. There were stipulations DACA recipients had to meet in order to be granted these protections, and some of these stipulations were regarded as “too strict” by many in Democrat circles: for example, a migrant had to prove they entered the U.S. before they were 16, that they had been in the U.S. continuously since 2007, and they could not be older than 31 as of June 15, 2012.
In addition, recipients had to be enrolled in high school or already in possession of a diploma or G.E.D in order to qualify for DACA protections, and anyone with a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction, or three misdemeanor convictions, could not be eligible for the protections. And unlike the DREAM Act which Congress attempted to push years prior, the DACA executive did not provide recipients with a pathway to citizenship. Bipartisan support for the Dreamers has been a thing for some time now, and Pew Research reported recently that the majority of Americans, 74 percent, are in favor of granting the Dreamers some legal protections. At the moment only one party, the Republican party, experiences a lot of infighting on the issue of the Dreamers. Many high profile Democrats have made issues involving DACA and the Dreamers fundamental facets of their policy agendas, and these leading advocates have been very vocal about what they want for the Dreamers.
Tom Perez on DACA
Tom Perez currently serves as Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and he has long been a vocal supporter of Dreamers and undocumented immigrants collectively: “Dreamer share our values and strengthen our nation. Their courage is American to its core.” Mr. Perez has said that the Dreamers have been mistreated by President Trump, and that they “deserve far better from the president of the only country they’ve ever called home.” Championing the ideals of his own party, Mr. Perez has said: “Democrats believe that diversity and compassion are our nation’s greatest strengths. We believe in fixing our immigration system, not uprooting lives and shattering families… we will continue to fight for the immigrant families who contribute to our country every day.”
Nancy Pelosi on DACA
Back in February of 2018, then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the floor of Congress for eight hours on behalf of the Dreamers. Ms. Pelosi’s speech set the record for the longest continuous speech given in the chamber, according to the House historian. During the speech, Ms. Pelosi read tearjerking testimonies from Dreamers who had written their representatives about their lives. Although Ms. Pelosi has repeatedly come out to vocalize her support for the Dreamers, she has as well received a lot of backlash from the very group she has advocated for: in September of last year, over four dozen immigration activists disapproving of Democrat negotiations with President Trump shouted down House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a San Francisco news conference. “We are not your bargaining chip,” the upset crowd chanted, reported KCBS News political reporter Doug Sovern. Ms. Pelosi recently reassumed the mantle of Speaker, and many anticipate she will use this position to further advocate for all classes of undocumented immigrants.
Determined to Save DACA
Speaker Pelosi has promised to “pass legislation that would put so-called Dreamers on a pathway to citizenship.” Elaborating on this goal, the Speaker said: ”In the Majority, Democrats will work to reverse the Republicans’ destructive anti-immigrant agenda. Our House Democratic Majority will once again pass the Dream Act to end the uncertainty and fear inflicted on patriotic young men and women across the country.” President Trump has demanded that he receive funding for the border wall he has spoken at lengths about in Congress’s next spending bill, and this demand conflicts with the aforementioned initiatives outlined by the new Democrat-run House. Representative Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), in an interview with CBS, said that “the Dream Act should be taken on alone, with no poison pills attached to it,” and he stressed that the House of Representatives “should try to pass the bill within the first 100 days of the next session.” At the moment a federal judge’s injunction is all that is keeping DACA in place, but the Trump administration has been exhausting everything in its power to lift this injunction. Democrat lawmakers in the House are confident that they can pass legislation before the DACA program is done away with, and without conceding too much to Mr. Trump and the Republicans.
- Fight for DACA – Democrats Abroad
- The Dreamers and DACA, Explained – Wall Street Journal
- New Democratic majority in the House is determined to save DACA – Aldia News
- Pelosi Held House Floor in Advocacy of ‘Dreamers’ for More Than 8 Hours – New York Times
- DNC Chair Tom Perez Weighs In On Democratic Prospects Ahead Of Midterms – WBUR
- Democratic Views On A Border Wall
- Democratic Views On Illegal Immigration
- Democratic View on Immigration
- Republican Views On Birthright Citizenship
- Republican Views on Illegal Immigration
- Republican Views on Immigration
- Donald Trump On Immigration
- Taking A Closer Look At Boehner’s Immigration Plan
- Democratic Views On Net Neutrality
- Democratic Views on Abortion