October 23, 2016
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Obama Administration Urged To Cease Deportations of DREAM Eligible Students

Washington - Today, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano requesting that the agency exercise its prosecutorial discretion and refrain from deporting young people who would be eligible for the DREAM Act. According to their letter, "The DREAM Act would provide immigration relief to a select group of students who arrived in the U.S. when they were 15 or under, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, have good moral character, are not inadmissible or removable under a number of specified grounds, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, and attend college or serve in the military for two years." 

This request is a welcome step, and we commend Senators Durbin and Lugar for their leadership.  We urge the Obama Administration not only to act favorably on this request, but to step up their efforts to secure the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform, which would provide long-term relief to these deserving students.  In the absence of legislative action, the Administration is under mounting pressure to address the many manifestations of the moral and political crisis brought about by our broken immigration system. 

For example, recently:

  • The Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General released a scathing report on the mismanagement of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement 287 (g) program, which cedes some authority for immigration enforcement to local law enforcement agencies.

  • The New York Times reported that earthquake victims who had been evacuated from Haiti by U.S. Marines were jailed in immigration detention centers from the first day they arrived here - as if they were being punished instead of rescued.

  • The New York Times also lifted up a disturbing story of a new report on mentally ill detainees getting lost in the detention system, not receiving the mental care they need, and being forced to stand trial even though many of them are not mentally competent.

  • Obama immigration authorities had set arbitrary quotas for ICE agents, incentivizing them to deport non-criminal undocumented non-citizens - a position directly at odds with stated White House and Administration goals wisely focusing enforcement efforts primarily on those who have dangerous or violent criminal backgrounds.

On the political front, Latinos, who voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008, are questioning the Administration's enforcement policies and failure to advance comprehensive immigration reform as promised, and putting increasing pressure on the White House and Congress to deliver this year.  As Congressman Luis Gutierrez said yesterday "Latino and immigrant voters are likely to stay home if their options are a Republican Party actively pushing them away and a Democratic Party doing little or nothing to draw them in.  They don't need me to tell them to stay home and I haven't, but the very real problem exists for the President and my Party that Latino and immigrant voters remember the promises they heard and are tuned-in enough to see they haven't been kept."

"Congress must act immediately to fix the broken immigration system," said Ali Noorani. "But the President must act too. He can not continue to sit on the sidelines while immigration reform legislation languishes in the negotiations stage, because there will be consequences. This joint letter from a Democrat and Republican is just another sign of the increasing pressure on the President and Congress to restore sanity to our nation's immigration system.  President Obama should act on the request from Senator Durbin and Senator Lugar for these students, who are American in nearly every aspect, and work with the Congress to pass real comprehensive immigration reform this year." 



Martine Apodaca (202) 383-5989

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