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Tell Congress to Save DACA

By Manuel Gonzales

We applaud Senator Dick Durbin for continuing to exercise his leadership on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The Latino Policy Forum has joined immigration reform advocates from across Illinois to stand in support of Senator Durbin and his efforts to save DACA from any efforts to rescind its protection of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants from deportation.

DACA was enacted by executive order by President Obama in June 2012, which grants a temporary, but renewable reprieve from deportation, along with work a authorization permit and the possibility to travel internationally to young adult immigrants. Approximately 744,000 people have received DACA protection nationally - 40,000 in Illinois alone - and many of them are students commonly referred to as DREAMers. 

Senator Durbin shared with us at a meeting today that DACA was one of the primary reasons he chose to run for re-election, and that he’s committed to supporting the program for as long as he’s in office. He pledged at our meeting today to work with Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina to push meaningful immigration legislation and fix our broken immigration system as our nation transitions to a Trump presidency.

“To the new president, if you're going to talk about immigration reform... don't do it at the expense of these young people," Senator Durbin said at a news conference following the meeting. “People across America know it’s a simple question of justice and fairness.”

We’re in a period of uncertainty right now and Senator Durbin is doing his best to turn this idea into legislation. In the interim, we urge organizations and business leaders across Illinois who have relationships with their local Congressmen, especially Republican leadership, to arrange meetings with them and begin asking now for their support of DACA. The Forum would be glad to help facilitate those meetings, if needed.  Contact the Forum's Civic Engagement Manager Julian Lazalde at jlazalde@latinopolicyforum.org for assistance. 

We also applaud Senator Graham, a Republican from a conservative leaning state, who is willing to not just work on this effort but also take a leadership role.

DACA youth were brought to this country through no choice of their own, and all they really know is what it’s like to be American.

We got inspiration at today’s meeting from a group of undocumented students at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine who are aspiring doctors and were selected on a competitive basis from thousands of med school applicants. They’re here to learn, they’re here to work and there is so much our nation stands to gain from them. 

How do we continue to nurture the talent and contribution of these young people? Easy, we must start by saving DACA.  

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Posted In: Immigration Reform & Policy