The date was June 15, 2012, and President Barack Obama gave a speech on immigration in the White House’s Rose Garden. He addressed the young people who would have been covered by the long-delayed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act. First introduced in 2001, this unpassed piece of bipartisan legislation would have protected those brought to this country as children by their parents who met the following requirements:
1. Entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday and has been present in the United States for at least five years.
2. Is a person of good moral character.
3. Is not inadmissible or deportable under specified grounds of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
4. At the time of application, has been admitted to an institution of higher education or has earned a high school or equivalent diploma.
5. From the age of 16 and older, has never been under a final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal.
6. Was under age 35 on the date of this act's enactment.
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans – they’ve been raised as Americans; understand themselves to be part of this country – to expel these young people who want to staff our labs, or start new businesses, or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents – or because of the inaction of politicians,” said Obama.
Thus began the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, known as DACA. This served as a stop-gap measure which allowed eligible DREAMers to apply for a renewable two-year period of deferred action and work permit eligibility. All told, around 800,000 young people took a chance and signed up. Through no fault of their own these people found themselves in an untenable situation. While not a permanent fix, DACA was certainly better than nothing. Now, all that promise may be but a dream unless action is taken by Tuesday.
“Trump is seriously considering ending DACA … before conservative state attorneys general file a court challenge to the program,” Axios’ Jonathan Swan first reported Aug. 24.
Now, one member of Trump’s own party is trying a last minute effort to save these DREAMers.
“Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, said Thursday he'll attempt to force a vote on a bill that would extend protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors,” reported Politico’s Kyle Cheney. “When he returns to Washington next week, Coffman said he'll file what's known as a ‘discharge petition’ to force action on his proposal, known as the BRIDGE Act. If he can persuade a majority of the House — 218 members — to join him, the House will be required to take up the measure later in September.”
These DREAMers represent the best of America, which is the only country most of them have ever known. If the president won’t move to protect them, then the legislative branch must do what it has failed to do in the past and defend this vulnerable population.