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We can protect DACA by coming together

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What do you do when a promise is broken? When the consequences of doing nothing will harm the future of hundreds of thousands of kids, you act and you act together.

Monday’s announcement by the Trump administration of the cancellation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will do great damage to the country. The evidence is clear: rescinding DACA will hurt the economy. This economic harm, as well as the immeasurable injury to the lives of kids and students, demands collective action of the thousands of organizations that represent immigrants. Civil society must mobilize.

Here are some ways to do this:

{mosads}First, in order to convince Congress to fulfill the promise made by President Obama, and now abandoned by President Trump, these civil society organizations, many that typically avoid politics at all costs, must act and must act quickly, before this window of policy attention closes and Congress moves on to other issues. I’ve found in my research that most immigrant organizations do not get involved in politics, especially during elections. Past inaction is no longer acceptable or necessary.


In reality, many organizations can fully abide by IRS rules on nonprofits and prohibitions on lobbying, and still provide a voice for those in need. For example, simply telling your member of Congress the story of how harmful ending DACA will be on your community is an important act which can be done as individual constituents and as a represents of a larger community.

Tell these stories in every Congressional district office in the country, because political science evidence shows that this works, especially when it’s done in person or on the phone. And organizations can go beyond this by sharing their views with elected officials at the state and local level as well as local business leaders who may hold sway over members of Congress.

Second, work as one. Coalitions of organizations should come together in common cause; they are more powerful when they do so. The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in Los Angeles is a great model to follow. This is especially important for immigrant organizations that do not serve mainly undocumented people or DACA recipients. Every arts organization, neighborhood association, and cultural group that represents immigrants, new or old, must be involved. That solidarity across communities is incredibly meaningful now as it will demonstrate to members of Congress the severity of this issue and wide consensus on acting now.

Third, use technology. Our social media hungry president has dominated Twitter since the election, but he’s not the only one with a cell phone. An organized and technologically savvy response is in need to prevent the end to DACA. Organizations trained in how to do this, like Voto Latino which has been successfully mobilizing young people with technology for a decade, need to link with those that do not.

There’s a need for a concerted effort to use the power of social media to demonstrate to Congress that it must respond and respond quickly. This can be done by sharing information about protests and marches to maximize turnout. Social media can be used to share stories about the personal impact of the repeal. Last year, many started using #withDACA to share these powerful examples of all the good that has come from DACA.

Ending DACA will split families and divide communities. In order to fight back, a unified, coordinated, and undivided response is needed. Immigrant organizations must take up the fight to protect some of our most gifted students, valued neighbors, and treasured friend.

Heath Brown is associate professor of public policy at the City University of New York, John Jay College and the CUNY Grad Center. He’s the author of Immigrants and Electoral Politics.

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


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