June 22, 2020

Udall, Heinrich Call On President Trump To Stop Threatening Dreamers’ Livelihoods, Establish Path To Citizenship

Following Supreme Court DACA decision, the Senators also join every member of the Senate Democratic Caucus in a letter to Senate Majority Leader McConnell calling for the immediate consideration of legislation to provide Dreamers a pathway to citizenship

WASHINGTON – Following the recent historic Supreme Court ruling rejecting President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich sent a letter to President Trump, insisting he end his crusade against immigrants and stop deporting Dreamers. The senators also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling on him to immediately take up legislation to establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers, including nearly 6,000 Dreamers in New Mexico. 

The senators are also calling on the president to direct the Department of Homeland Security to reopen the DACA program to eligible individuals who have been unable to apply due to the administration’s decision to terminate the program.

“As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is well within your executive authority to protect Dreamers. By contrast, going ahead with your Administration’s efforts to deport DACA recipients would be needlessly cruel and would weaken our nation’s essential workforce,” the senators wrote to President Trump. “Only Congress can provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, but it is up to you whether to use your Administration’s authority to allow these young immigrants who have benefitted America in countless ways to continue contributing to our nation, or to continue your efforts to deport them.”

In their letter to President Trump, the senators also noted that in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 200,000 DACA recipients are working in occupational areas that the Trump Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies as part of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” This includes an estimated 41,700 DACA recipients working in the health care industry, including physicians and physicians in training, intensive care nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, and health technicians.

In April, Senators Udall and Heinrich sent a letter to President Trump urging him to automatically extend existing legal work authorizations for DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients and other impacted immigrants. In New Mexico, there are 1,900 DACA recipients working in health care, education, and food service-related jobs according to the Center for American Progress and 382 TPS recipients as of 2019 according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Read the full letter to President Trump below or by clicking here. 

Dear President Trump:

Following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), today you tweeted, “We will be submitting enhanced papers shortly in order to properly fulfil the Supreme Court’s ruling & request of yesterday” We strongly urge you to change course and use your executive authority to protect, not deport, the young immigrants who are eligible for DACA. 

Eight years ago, following bipartisan requests from Congress, President Obama used his legal authority to establish DACA. DACA provides temporary protection from deportation on an individualized basis to immigrants who arrived in the United States as children if they register with the government, pay a fee, and pass criminal and national security background checks. The young people who are eligible for DACA, known as Dreamers, are American in every way except for their immigration status. More than 800,000 Dreamers have come forward and received DACA. DACA has been vital for Dreamers, who are contributing to our country as soldiers, nurses, teachers, and small business owners, and in many other ways.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 200,000 DACA recipients are working in occupational areas that your Administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies as part of the “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” This includes an estimated 41,700 DACA recipients working in the health care industry, including physicians and physicians in training, intensive care nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, and health technicians. It makes no sense to continue your efforts to deport these essential workers to countries they barely remember even as our nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When you announced your repeal of DACA, you called on Congress to “legalize DACA,” and today you tweeted, “I have wanted to take care of DACA recipients better than the Do Nothing Democrats, but for two years they refused to negotiate.” In fact, you have rejected numerous bipartisan deals to protect Dreamers. For example, on January 11, 2018, in a meeting in the Oval Office, you rejected a bipartisan immigration agreement that included protection for Dreamers. On February 15, 2018, the Senate considered a bipartisan amendment offered by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Angus King (I-ME) which included a path to citizenship for Dreamers. A bipartisan majority supported the amendment, but it failed to reach the 60 votes needed to pass because your Administration issued a statement of opposition. On the same day, the Senate rejected your immigration proposal by a bipartisan supermajority of 39-60. 

On June 4, 2019, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, legislation that would give Dreamers a path to citizenship, on a strong bipartisan vote of 237-187. The American Dream and Promise Act has now been pending in the Senate for more than a year.

Mr. President, it is not too late for you to do the right thing. Specifically, we call on you to immediately:

  1. Publicly announce that you will not make another attempt to repeal DACA;
  2. Direct DHS to reopen DACA to eligible individuals who have been unable to apply due to your decision to terminate DACA; and. 
  3. Endorse the American Dream and Promise Act, which would pass the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote if you simply called on Leader McConnell to bring it to a vote.

As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is well within your executive authority to protect Dreamers. By contrast, going ahead with your Administration’s efforts to deport DACA recipients would be needlessly cruel and would weaken our nation’s essential workforce. Only Congress can provide a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, but it is up to you whether to use your Administration’s authority to allow these young immigrants who have benefitted America in countless ways to continue contributing to our nation, or to continue your efforts to deport them.

It would be an American tragedy to deport DACA recipients who are saving lives in the midst of this pandemic. We must ensure these talented young immigrants are not forced to stop working when the need for their public service has never been greater. And we must give them the chance they deserve to become American citizens.

We, and hundreds of thousands of Dreamers, await your response.

Sincerely,