Following the June 18 Supreme Court ruling rejecting President Donald Trump’s repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, both D-Delaware, joined Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and the Senate Democratic Caucus on a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, calling on him to immediately take up the bipartisan House-passed American Dream and Promise Act, which will establish a path to citizenship for Dreamers and immigrants with Temporary Protected Status or Deferred Enforced Departure.
In their letter, the senators noted that with Republicans in the majority, the Senate has failed to address our nation’s immigration challenges. In the 116th Congress, the Border Security and Immigration Subcommittee has held only one hearing; the Senate Judiciary Committee on which Coons sits has voted on only one immigration bill — the Trump administration’s anti-asylum bill — and the Republican majority limited debate to only one hour and did not allow a single amendment to be offered; and McConnell has not brought a single immigration bill to the floor of the Senate.
“It is not too late to change course,” wrote the senators. “As Majority Leader, you can immediately schedule a vote in the Senate for the American Dream and Promise Act. 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.”
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 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.
Durbin first introduced the Dream Act 19 years ago. In 2019, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Durbin introduced the Dream Act of 2019. The Dream Act was also included in the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform bill that Durbin and Graham co-authored as part of the “Gang of Eight” — four Democrats and four Republicans. The 2013 bill passed the Senate on a strong bipartisan vote of 68-32, but the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives refused to consider it.
The full text of the letter is available at bit.ly/2NnR0DT.