Undocumented immigrant youth have been rallying, organizing, and sharing their personal stories for years, winning one of the most prominent immigrant rights victories—the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—from the Obama administration back in 2012. Because of DACA, some 800,000 immigrant youth have been able to live their lives with some normalcy. But in the coming weeks, they’re facing the fight of their lives as they advocate for the bipartisan DREAM Act, which would finally put undocumented immigrant youth on a path to citizenship:
This month, the dreamers face the biggest test yet of their political clout — a make-or-break moment in their long path to the precipice of becoming fully legalized residents. A loss would mean a devastating return to living in the shadows and the perpetual fear of being deported.
President Trump, who ended the Obama-era deferred action program in September, has set a March 5 deadline for lawmakers to act before the bulk of the permits begin to expire at a rate of nearly 1,000 per day.
But the fact is that this March date is a completely arbitrary—and dangerous—deadline invented by the Trump administration. More than 10,000 DACA recipients have already fallen out of status, and over 120 continue to lose their work permits and protection from deportation every single day. And as the Washington Post notes, without a clean DREAM Act now, that number will skyrocket, with some studies showing it could be as high as 1,400 young people daily:
Most on Capitol Hill said a deal must realistically be done before the end of December because a bipartisan agreement would become more difficult in a midterm election year.
For the dreamers, the moment has reactivated a nationwide political network honed over the past decade. Motivated anew, they are planning to ramp up the emotional, in-your-face demonstrations that have brought them to this precipice.
“I am one of the 800,000 DACA Dreamers,” tweeted Sarahi, who shared her story as part of a recent United We Dream (UWD) campaign. “I have 502 days until my DACA expires. In 502 days I will lose my job. In 502 days I will no longer be able to afford school or attend school. In 502 days my dreams will be destroyed. Every day 122 Dreamers are losing their opportunity to work here, to go to school here, and start living in fear of getting deported.” It’s now or never for DREAM, and across the nation, immigrant youth are promising a continuous presence, including sending delegations of Dreamers to airports to greet members of Congress returning to Washington, D.C.