The Supreme Court rightly rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This marks an important victory for the more than 700,000 “Dreamers” – undocumented young adults who were brought to the United States as children – whom DACA has protected from deportation since its inception in 2012.
An estimated 4,000 Dreamers live in Hawai‘i. Over 800 Hawaiʻi residents have been granted DACA status over the past 5 years.
“By shielding Dreamers from deportation and granting them permission to work, DACA gives Dreamers the opportunity to come out of the shadows and contribute more fully to the only country many of them have ever known,” said Corey Park, The Legal Clinic Board President.
Because of DACA, Dreamers are able to work, attend school, and join the military without fear. Currently, 30,000 DACA recipients are serving as frontline medical personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many DACA recipients are now working adults with U.S-born children of their own; nearly 256,000 U.S. citizen children have at least one parent with DACA status.
“With so much uncertainty in the world today, it can be hard to stay positive when many of our Hawai‘i ‘ohana are struggling. I feel blessed for the professional opportunities and goals I have been able to achieve, thanks to DACA,” said Liz Cortez, a legal assistant and DACA recipient from Maui.
Unfortunately, the Court’s decision does not end the threat to DACA because the Department of Homeland Security could, if it chooses, attempt to rescind the DACA program again, this time with a more thorough justification for its decision.
The Legal Clinic joins immigrant advocacy organizations in Hawai‘i and across the nation in calling on Congress to put an end to the political games that the Trump administration is playing with the lives of an entire generation of young immigrants.
“Now more than ever Congress needs to create a permanent solution that gives us a path to citizenship and allows us to remain in this country that we love,” said Cortez.
We urge Congress to pass, and the president to sign, a law giving Dreamers a path to a more secure status without putting other immigrant communities at risk. The House of Representatives has already passed H.R..6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019, which would allow Dreamers to apply for lawful status. However, the Senate has failed to act on H.R.6. It must do so to protect Dreamers, many of whom know no other home and have been contributing members of our community.