Bipartisan advocates for immigrants’ rights in Nevada are praising plans to reintroduce the DREAM Act in Congress for 2017, even as the Trump Administration has sent mixed signals about whether they’ll support the program in the future.
The Migration Policy Institute estimates there are 30,000 so-called “Dreamers” in Nevada and up to 1.4 million across the country.
Alicia Contreras, Nevada state director for the group “Mi Familia Vota,” says giving these young people a chance to succeed in the country where they were raised is simply the right thing to do.
“This was a moral decision that we cannot encourage folks to apply for administrative relief, identify themselves to the government and then, hold them accountable,” she says.
The President renewed the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, in June. It grants work permits but is not a path to citizenship. However, Trump’s legislative director Marc Short said last week that the president is focused on enforcement and is unlikely to sign a new DREAM Act.
“Is this everything that we need? No. We need to open the dialogue towards comprehensive immigration reform. DACA and DAPA were administrative relief; they were not a solution.”
– Alicia Contreras
The current DACA program is being challenged in the courts by ten states, and it’s unclear whether the Justice Department will defend it in court. Contreras says a new DREAM Act is a step in the right direction but, under the circumstances, agrees there’s a long way to go.
“Is this everything that we need?” she asks. “No. We need to open the dialogue towards comprehensive immigration reform. DACA and DAPA were administrative relief; they were not a solution.”
DAPA, President Barack Obama’s executive order to give work permits to the parents of U.S. citizens, died last year after the Supreme Court’s tie vote on the issue, thus affirming a lower court decision to strike it down.
By Suzanne Potter
Public News Service – NV