Tuesday marked the ninth anniversary of the creation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by then-President Barack Obama on June 15, 2012. Since its inception, DACA has helped over 800,000 undocumented youth who were brought to this country as children, many of whom have been serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as essential workers. By making clear that these immigrants are not a deportation priority, DACA has allowed them to stay and work in the United States without fear their lives being upended.
On his first day in office, President Biden signed an executive order to reinstate DACA after the Trump administration’s attempts to undermine and repeal the program.
Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) released the following statement:
“I will never forget nine years ago today when President Barack Obama announced his intent to provide deportation relief and work permits to our undocumented youth, and how much I knew that meant to so many in my district and throughout the country who had been living in the shadows. This includes over 120,000 Asian Dreamers like Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn who met with President Biden last month to discuss the urgent need to enact legislation to protect Dreamers who have been living in limbo for too long.
“Over the years, I have gotten to know many Dreamers like Jirayut, and they have spoken about their fear of coming home one day to find their parents deported, or that they themselves might be forced back to a country they have never known, away from the friends, family, and lives they have established here in the United States. Many of these Dreamers are valedictorians, Veterans, and people serving their communities. In fact, during the pandemic, an estimated 200,000 Dreamers worked on the front lines to protect and serve our nation as health care professionals, educators, restaurant workers, and more.
“Nonetheless, nine years after the establishment of the DACA program, Dreamers still face an uncertain future, despite their deep roots here and all they have done to give back to our communities. Tearing apart families and communities simply because someone was born in a different country is cruel and fails to reflect our values as a nation, but that is exactly what the previous administration attempted to do. That is why, I believe we need a permanent fix to ensure that Dreamers who are American in every way but on paper can stay in the only country they have ever called home. But we cannot stop there. We know there are many immigrant essential workers who have risked their lives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to care for others, including TPS holders like Rukmani Bhattari Adhikari, a care professional who participated in a roundtable with Vice President Harris earlier Tuesday. DACA and TPS recipients deserve permanent protections like those provided through the House-passed American Dream and Promise Act. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this bill. And I also ask my colleagues in both chambers to join me in calling for the passage of the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, a comprehensive immigration reform bill which would also provide a much needed pathway to citizenship for millions who are still living in the shadows.”