The previous administration was, under court order, forced to fully reinstate DACA, and the Biden administration has taken steps to strengthen the program. But an imminent decision from Texas Judge Andrew Hanen could throw the lives of hundreds of thousands of DACA recipients back into limbo, a reality that Harris acknowledged during the roundtable on Tuesday.
“Even with DACA in place, we know that Dreamers live in a constant state of fear about their status and about their future,” she said. “And it is critically important that we provide a pathway to citizenship, to give people a sense of certainty and a sense of security … so there is an urgency to this moment. And your stories are America’s stories, and that’s why we’re today, to share stories, and to renew our commitment to this issue.”
In a Twitter thread, advocacy group Domestic Workers said that among the women were DACA recipients Gloria and Scarleth. “I’ve seen my parents struggle and how much they had to work to get food on the table,” Gloria said. “Our stories are of suffering and fear, but also of hope. Hope that we might be able to achieve something greater.” Domestic Workers said that “[w]hen DACA was announced 9 years ago, Scarleth was able to start working toward her dream of being in law. Today she is at the White House alongside her mother speaking with the @VP.”
Young undocumented immigrants and their allies also rallied for permanent relief outside the White House. “Today, on the 9 year anniversary of DACA, immigrant youth and our allies took action outside the White House to demand Democrats in Congress deliver on citizenship for millions of our loved ones, friends and family members through a 51-vote strategy,” United We Dream (UWD) tweeted. They were joined by Congressional champions like Illinois Rep. Chuy García, who tweeted that “DACA remains the floor, not the ceiling when it comes to protecting immigrant communities like the ones I represent.”
“When Trump took office, I was overwhelmed with fear,” UWD member Karla Mercado Dorado said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “His administration made it a goal to target and hurt immigrant communities as much as possible, attacking DACA and even those without DACA, like me, at every opportunity. In December 2020, I was finally able to apply for DACA for the first time. Today’s anniversary is a reminder of the power of immigrant youth and our allies who fought to win and protect the program against numerous Republican-led attacks.”
“But our fight is far from over,” she continued. “An ongoing lawsuit in Texas is yet another vindictive and cruel attempt by Republicans to end DACA and put our communities on a path to deportation.”
Tuesday also marked a historic hearing on permanent relief for young undocumented immigrants, as well as Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure holders. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was to address the House-passed Dream and Promise Act; Republicans instead waltzed in with the usual talking points they use as excuses to continue doing nothing. But that didn’t happen without some pushback. California Sen. Alex Padilla criticized “Republican committee members’ attempts to distract from the need to provide relief to DACA recipients by perpetuating false claims about migration at the southern border,” his office said.
“As the proud son of immigrants, I am honored to participate in this hearing, and to help highlight the contributions that Dreamers and TPS recipients, contributions that they are making to this country each and every day,” Padilla said in his opening remarks on Tuesday. “For four years, Dreamers successfully opposed efforts to destroy the DACA program. […] But the past nine years also represents a failure on the part of this body.”
In a statement received by Daily Kos, Ruben Cohetzaltitla, a son of undocumented farmworkers in Washington, said during a UFW Foundation-moderated call on Tuesday that while his brother is protected by DACA, “he also lives with uncertainty for the days beyond his two-year permit.” In addition to the Dream and Promise Act, the House in March also passed legislation that protects undocumented farmworkers. That’s also currently stalled in the Senate.
“His livelihood could be swept from under him with just one court decision that rules DACA can no longer continue,” Cohetzaltitla said. “My brother and my parents continue to be undocumented. They are the reason why I fight, because we need a permanent solution—we need citizenship. My parents worked throughout the pandemic; they didn’t have the option to stay home for their safety. They were essential in the country’s ability to have food on their tables. That’s why the Senate has to act—so that families like mine can live without the fear of being separated.”