Democratic senators, representatives call on Supreme Court to protect DACA recipients

Democratic senators and congressional representatives are urging the Supreme Court to protect individuals under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

DACA was introduced in 2012 by President Barack Obama and offered temporary protection to almost 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

President Donald Trump announced in Sept. 2017 he was ending the program, a decision that was challenged by multiple federal lawsuits. This week, the case was argued before the Supreme Court.

"(When the DACA program was established) it changed the lives of thousands and thousands of Dreamers for the better, it made our country better," Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a floor speech this week. "These hard working and patriotic Americans are haunted by the possibility they could be forced to leave this country at any moment, be pulled away from their families, their jobs, their homes. It’s cruel, it’s counterproductive, it undermines American values and all that America stands for.

"If America is to remain the greatest nation in the world, a beacon of hope and freedom for people everywhere, a light amongst nations, we must live up to our best values. And that means we must stand totally and wholeheartedly with the Dreamers and all the 11 million that now live in the shadows."

Applicants must not have been convicted of a felony and must also have been enrolled in school or obtained at least the equivalent of a high school degree in order to be eligible for DACA. Recipients are allowed to work in the United States without fear of being deported and can also, potentially, obtain a driver’s license and/or Social Security number.

Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) wrote in an op-ed published by CNN that "DACA unleashed the full potential of Dreamers."

"It would be an American tragedy to deport these young people back to countries they barely remember," the op-ed read, in part. "…Dreamers have benefited America through their talents, hard work and service. Their future hangs in the balance."

In June, the House of Representatives passed the American Dream and Promise Act, which would establish a pathway to citizenship for more than 2 million immigrants.

The Senate has not acted on the bill as of mid-November.

"Dreamers’ lives are intertwined with ours," Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) wrote in an NBC News piece. "Even in these politically polarized times, the vast majority of the American people support providing Dreamers with a path to citizenship. These are the immigrants that we should embrace and protect, not vilify and throw back into the shadows again.

"I will walk into the (Supreme Court) with the faith and hope that Dreamers will remain protected by our government. And I will take this opportunity to recommit to fighting for them in Congress. We need to permanently lift the cloud over their heads and give them the freedom and opportunities that will allow them to reach their God-given potential."

The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling regarding Dreamers and the termination of DACA in June 2020, according to CNN.