Congress must protect Dreamers after Trump’s failure to lead

Congress must protect Dreamers after Trump’s failure to lead
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Congress faces a pressing deadline to restore protections for Dreamers — those brought to the United States by a parent and who have grown up here since they were kids — by the end of the year. It is far too common for Congress to delay needed actions, but passing a clean Dream Act cannot be another thing that politicians put off before heading home for the holidays. This is an issue of fundamental human decency and justice — one that will say a great deal about our values as a country.  

If lawmakers fail to act in December, young people across the United States will be forced to flee the only country they’ve known or once again recede into the shadows. This is a cruel and inhumane way to treat people who consider the United States their only home and are valuable members of our society. Dreamers came to the United States with their parents who believed that this country offered them a chance at a better future.

It didn’t have to be this way. This is a crisis entirely manufactured by President Trump, who insisted on using Dreamers as a bargaining chip to push his extreme agenda and openly admitted that he revoked Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) so he could try  “getting something in return” for agreeing to protect these young people. Dehumanizing these individuals is reprehensible, and it is up to Congress to act compassionately and responsibly in the next two weeks. 


President Trump and members of his administration have been quite open about their extreme intolerance for immigrants and who they believe should have access to the American Dream. During his presidential campaign, we heard the hateful rhetoric in Trump’s speeches. We saw him fill his administration with xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and racist individuals who seek to divide and marginalize us based on how we look or how we pray.

We watched as his administration refused to unequivocally condemn the white nationalists marching down the streets of Charlottesville. Now Congress has to decide whether to follow his lead or to solve this crisis in a bipartisan way. 

Today, Dreamers run small businesses, teach, work in our hospitals and schools, serve in the military, and are leaders in their communities. That’s why earlier this month, more than 70 civil rights organizations from across the country came together to ask the Trump administration and members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats alike — to come together to protect Dreamers. 

Right now, there is a bipartisan Dream Act sitting in Congress that will solve this manufactured crisis that Trump created. It’s a bill that has been kicking around in Congress in some form or another for over a decade. It has support from influential members of both parties – from Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGraham: 'I accept the results of the election' Juan Williams: The GOP's losing bet on Trump Pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race MORE (R-S.C.) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.) to Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSenators shed masks after CDC lifts mandate Pro-tax millionaires protesting in front of Bezos's homes Student debt cancellation advocates encouraged by Biden, others remain skeptical MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris, Hispanic Caucus meet on Central America Harris headlining Asian American Democratic PAC's summit Here's why Joe Biden polls well, but Kamala Harris does not MORE (D-Calif.).

Congress should immediately pass a clean Dream Act — one without any divisive amendments. There are human stakes in these negotiations. Our elected leaders must not use this opportunity to try to push through other aspects of their agenda, which have nothing to do with Dreamers.

We are a nation with a strong history of immigration. Turning our back to those who seek a better life in America is a fundamental rejection of our founding principles. We cannot let President Trump’s abdication of leadership dictate the future of Dreamers living in the United States. Members of Congress have an opportunity to show meaningful leadership by casting an historic vote to protect Dreamers next month. It is time for them to do the right thing without further delay.

Vanita Gupta is the president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.