Trump should work with Congress to save ‘Dreamers’

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Imagine for a moment that your parents took you to the United States as a child. Your mom and dad may have sacrificed their careers, their homes and life near their extended families for one reason: because this country enshrines in our Declaration of Independence the rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This is our nation’s promise, one that all Americans hold sacred. No matter whom you are, no matter where you are from, your dreams rest on a foundation that you can turn into your reality.

{mosads}In your time in the United States, you learned the customs and the laws of your new country. While your parents continued to sacrifice, you earned an education, learned a new language, formed a social network and became infused with the patriotism one finds from their immigrant perspective on how unique it is to live in a country of such abundant freedom.


You grow up feeling American, living as an American and knowing that this is where you belong. The national anthem is your anthem. The pledge of allegiance is your vow. And yet, you are not considered a rightful citizen of the only country you pledge allegiance and the only country whose anthem you sing. And so you lived in the shadows until there was hope.

In 2012, President Obama issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allowed 750,000 undocumented children brought to the United States by their parents — these “Dreamers” as they are called — to stay here indefinitely. Hundreds of thousands of young people, with their invigorating energy, new ideas and unwavering dreams, received the gift of a future with the knowledge that they could finally call the United States their true homeland.

In return for DACA, immigrant families provided their names and all of their personal information to the federal government because DACA offered a life-changing reprieve and allowed them to work and study without constant fear of deportation. DACA legitimized their existence and it validated their experience as Americans.

But today, the new administration has threatened the removal of our Dreamers from the United States. And now instead of the possibility of lawful integration into our society, these names and this personal information that represented hopes and dreams now represents fear of possible separation from their families and their country. For the government to break a promise to children and make them pay for the actions of their parents is cruel and un-American.

President-elect Trump and Congress need to sustain and expand current DACA measures and allow young immigrants to continue to participate and contribute as productive members of American society. In the bi-partisan agreement, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin introduced the Bridge Act, legislation that would protect Dreamers in anticipation of any attempt by the president-elect to make good on his campaign promise to rescind DACA and remove our bright and brave youth from this country.

The non-partisan Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute emphatically supports the Bridge Act. The reason for our unequivocal support is simple: CHCI has seen firsthand the enormous benefits of DACA.

For four decades, CHCI has witnessed the positive impact our programs have had on our students and our Latino leaders. CHCI has provided thousands of bright, talented and promising Latino youth with paid congressional internships, fellowships and leadership programs designed to enhance opportunities to become leaders in Washington, DC and around the globe.

We consider our programs transformative not only for our young men and women, but also for those in Congress who get the opportunity to meet and work with these CHCI participants on the Hill. Most importantly, and an offering of which we are most proud, is that CHCI programs are open to all interested Latino students, including those who are DACA recipients or Dreamers.

The Dreamers or young people brought to this country as children and guaranteed the constitutional right to primary and secondary education, should be allowed to pursue further an education and the opportunity to make positive contributions to society. CHCI has and will continue to aggressively promote, protect and provide opportunities to Latino students, documented or undocumented, who deserve the right to receive an education and a chance to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

Our commitment to DACA recipients and Dreamers has been and will remain unwavering. DACA is a source of hope for many Latinos and certainly for this organization. We hope that you will join us in protecting and supporting immigrants, who like thousands before them, have enriched this country and contributed to the success of our great nation.

Domenika Lynch is president and CEO of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags DACA Dick Durbin Dreamers Immigration Lindsey Graham
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