Rondell Treviño, Founder and President, Memphis immigration Project
In 2012, the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was put into effect granting protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of undocumented Immigrants known as Dreamers, who came to the U.S. as young babies and children without any choice in the matter.
Currently, there are around 800,000 plus Dreamers with DACA in the U.S., of which nearly 8,000 have benefited around the state of Tennessee, and 2,000 plus in the city of Memphis. The DACA program has given Dreamers in the state of Tennessee and Memphis the ability to acquire a job with benefits, obtain a Social Security number, gain better access to higher education and more fully participate in their communities.
However, despite the protection and benefits DACA provides for Dreamers, attorneys general from nine states (Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, New England, South Carolina, West Virginia) are demanding the Trump administration remove DACA for these Dreamers or they will sue on September 5, 2017.
This past Sunday night (September 3, 2017), according to POLITICO, President Trump decided to rescind the DACA program with a six-month delay in order for Congress to come up with a law that protects Dreamers.
Today (September 5, 2017), Attorney General Jeff Sessions affirmed Trump’s decision to rescind the DACA program in 6 months (March 2018), but renewals will be processed for Dreamers if their work permit is set to expire by March 5, 2018, and their renewal application is in by October 5, 2017. This is good news for some, but more will be out of luck.
The six-month delay given by the Trump administration is more than enough time for Congress to pass a law protecting Dreamers, but make no mistake that during this delay 800,000 plus Dreamers will be living in fear and worry as their future hangs in the balance. Therefore, Congress MUST ACT and put in a law protecting Dreamers because it is not their fault they came to the U.S. as young babies and children, and they should not be blamed for actions they did not commit.
Here are 9 things we can do now before DACA is rescinded in 6 months:
1. Pray. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” There are 800,000 Dreamers brokenhearted and crushed in spirit and although God is near them, He also providentially uses us to be near them in tough times. One way we can do this is by carving out time and praying that God would give peace and comfort to the 800,000 Dreamers living in fear. We can pray that God would allow us to befriend a Dreamer and get to know he or her.
2. Support the Dream Act of 2017. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced a bipartisan bill called the Dream Act of 2017.
This bill contains key things that Memphis Dreamers and Memphians should know:
- The Dream Act would create a conditional permanent resident status valid for up to eight years for young undocumented immigrants that would protect them from deportation, allow them to work legally in the U.S. and permit them to travel outside the country.
- To qualify for conditional permanent resident (CPR) status, young undocumented immigrants would need to meet the following requirements:
- Through documentation described in the bill, establish that they were brought to the U.S. at age 17 or younger and have lived continuously in the U.S. for at least four years prior to the bill’s enactment;
- Pass a government background check, demonstrate “good moral character” with no felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submit biometric and biographic data and undergo a biometric and medical exam;
- Demonstrate they have been admitted to a college or university, have earned a high school diploma, or are in the process of earning a high school diploma or an equivalent; and
- Pay a fee.
- The bill would automatically grant conditional permanent resident (CPR) status to DACA recipients who still meet the requirements needed to obtain DACA.
- Conditional permanent resident status can be changed to lawful permanent resident status — green card holder — by:
- Maintaining continuous residence in the U.S.;
- Meeting one of the following three requirements:
1) Completion of at least two years of military service,
2) Graduation from a college or university or completion of at least two years of a bachelor’s or higher degree program in the U.S., or
3) Employment for a period totaling at least three years;
- Demonstrating an ability to read, write and speak English and an understanding of American history, principles, and form of government;
- Passing a government background check, continuing to demonstrate “good moral character” without felony or multiple misdemeanor convictions, submitting biometric and biographic data and undergoing a biometric and medical exam; and
- Paying a fee.
- Recipients can lose conditional permanent resident status if they commit a serious crime or fail to meet the other requirements set in the bill.
Why is the Dream Act of 2017 worth supporting?
It is a bipartisan, legislative solution put together by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), helps the American economy, and it supports our country’s values by protecting Dreamers who came to the U.S. as young babies and children without any choice in the matter.
3. Support the Recognizing America’s Children (RAC) Act. This solution is similar to the Dream Act of 2017 except it does not include Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and excludes many DACA recipients who have been in removal proceedings (including people with no criminal violations). But the period of conditional residence is shorter – five years – so people can get to citizenship faster than with Dream. (Adapted by Greg Siskind)
4. Download STANCE App. Simply download the Stance app on your smartphone and send voice messages to your congressman and Senators urging them to protect Dreamers by passing a law like the Dream Act of 2017. This only takes 2-3 minutes to complete.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: After downloading the Stance app and selecting it to open, you will come to the first screen, read, and select continue.
Step 2: You will then come to the screen that says “Find your Representatives” and you either can click on “Use my location” or “Enter address manually.”
Step 3: You will then come to a screen that allows you to pick one of your two US Senators or your Representative. Select the one you want to send a voice message to.
Step 4: You will then come to a screen that says “Tell your Rep/Sen where you stand and encourage them to act. Make it personal!” Then you simply hold down the pink colored shape and record sharing the message provided that says, “I’m calling today about ISSUE. This is important to me because REASON/STORY. And I encourage you to act.” After recording your message it’s sent to the Senators and Representative’s voicemail for he or she to hear.
5. Call Senators and Congress. Call Senators and Congress via phone urging them to protect Dreamers through the Dream Act of 2017.
Senator Lamar Alexander: 901-544-4224; Senator Bob Corker: 901-683-1910; Congressman Steve Cohen: 901-544-4329.
6. Share support on social media. Use the hashtags #EvangelicalsDefendDreamers, #DreamAct2017, #DACA and #IWelcomeImmigrants to share support on your Social Media outlets.
7. Tweet at the 9 Attorneys General. Tweet at the attorneys general from Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, South Carolina, West Virginia, & Arkansas urging them to stop threatening to sue the Federal Government to end DACA.
8. Text ‘RESIST’ to 50409. Simply text ‘RESIST’ to 50409 to tell your State Senators that you want to Defend Dreamers with DACA and urge them to support the Dream Act of 2017. It’s quick and sends a fax to your Senator’s office.
9. Sign this petition urging Congress to protect Dreamers. Please sign this petition and share on your social media accounts.
Memphis immigration Project is a faith-based bipartisan organization that exists to equip communities, and advance policies that are just and equitable for the welfare of the city.