Open Declaration to Community Leaders, Democrats, Republicans, and President Donald Trump from DREAM for a Bipartisan Compromise

Open Declaration to Community Leaders, Democrats, Republicans, and President Donald Trump
from DREAM for a Bipartisan Compromise

October 28, 2017
 
Introduction
 Clinton Rossiter, a renowned historian and political scientist, once wrote, “No America without democracy, no democracy without politics, no politics without parties, no parties without compromise and moderation.”1 In the current American political system, legislative compromise is essential to resolving the country’s critical issues. One of these issues is the broken immigration system and the need for immigration reform. In particular, the matter that necessitates a swift and pragmatic resolution is the sociopolitical limbo that an estimated 800,000 DACA recipients (also known as Dreamers) face with the Trump Administration’s recent decision to end DACA. This resolution can come forth only through a logical and healthy compromise. If Congress does not resolve the issue, these Dreamers will return to the shadows and face the demons of deportation. However, reaching a compromise is not an easy task. The middle ground of glorious resolution is undermined not only by xenophobic anti-immigrants who oppose any form of legalization, but also paternalistic pro-immigrant organizations and belligerent, intolerant, and inflexible advocates who demand too much but do not want to give concessions. Given that some Republicans are willing to support legalization for Dreamers in support for border security measures, now is a critical time to work on a compromise for Dreamers that prevents us from returning to the shadows and safeguards our parents and friends from a destructive deportation machine. Now is the time to come to the middle ground. We cannot afford to return to the pre-DACA era. This declaration  represents the silenced, repressed views of pragmatic Dreamers who support a compromise on the DREAM Act and border security.
 
Pre-DACA Era: Perdition on Earth
Failing to reach a legislative fix on DACA means that an estimated 800,000 Dreamers face the risk of returning to the shadows of unlawful legal presence, which we consider perdition on earth. Prior to the implementation of DACA, many Dreamers had to struggle against significant adversity. The common stories include struggling to find work; dealing with exploitative and sometimes sexually abusive employers out of necessity to cover personal, housing, and educational expenses; dealing with the psychological burden of uncertainty and the rhetorical scapegoating from the xenophobic alt right; dealing with the trauma, divisions, and separations that immigration status inflicted on our families; delaying the use of well-earned, expensive professional degrees; and facing the threat of deportation on a daily basis. The failure of the 2010 DREAM Act only exacerbated these issues. The future undoubtedly appeared to be bleak.
 
DACA: The Lifeline to Dreamers
 President Barack Obama’s DACA announcement on June 15, 2012, was the lifeline to all Dreamers. Because of DACA, Dreamers were able to obtain a higher level of empowerment.  They were able to liberate themselves from the systemic shackles of repression and step out of the shadows. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, DACA recipients were able to improve their lives in the following ways:2 • 69% moved to a job with better pay; • 90% received their first driver’s license or state ID; • 65% purchased their first car; • 5% started their own business; • [DACA] Recipients saw their average wage increase by 69%; and • 16 % purchased their first home.  
In the process of these livelihood improvements, Dreamers, many of whom are single parents, became the financial pillars for their families, especially due to the fact that many went on to complete college or other advanced degrees.
 
 New Challenges: The Elimination of DACA, the Far Right, and the Inflexible Clean Dream Act Movement
 Even though President Donald Trump called for a legislative DACA fix within a sixmonth period after he decided to rescind DACA, the possibility of a solid negotiated fix is being undermined by far-right leaders and pro-immigrant organizations, such as but not limited to United We Dream, Undocumedia, the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA), and CHIRLA. While the far right unsurprisingly opposes any form of legalization or demands draconian border security measures, some of the aforementioned pro-immigrant organizations surprisingly and inflexibly demand that Congress pass a “clean” Dream Act, referring to a bill that does not include any border security measures or any other items of compromise.3 These pro-immigrant organizations advance this position because they argue that any border securityDream Act compromise entails throwing other undocumented immigrants, including Dreamers’ parents, “under the bus.” Till date, no proposal contains a provision that calls for the automatic deportation of our parents and other immigrants.  
In the process of advancing this inflexible position, these organizations are dangerously at risk of not getting any sort of legislative relief and sending Dreamers back to the merciless shadows by refusing to negotiate, especially when both Democrats and Republicans have declared that a clean Dream Act will not make it through a Republican-controlled House of Representatives. For instance, Senator Richard Durbin has declared, “It is naive for us to believe we would get 12 Republicans to vote for DACA or DREAM Act without putting something on the table.”4 In addition, House Speaker Paul Ryan has continuously expressed sympathy for the plight of DACA recipients while emphasizing the need for a border security compromise.5 Moreover, President Trump has emphasized that he wants a deal on DACA that at the very least includes the construction of the border wall.6  
To make matters worse, some of the aforementioned pro-immigrant organization members and their supporters are refusing to listen to and even engage in attacks directed towards pragmatic Dreamers who dissent on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. The concerns of many Dreamers who are the financial pillars of their families are being overlooked. These pragmatic Dreamers are paternalistically treated as politically ignorant and are accused of selfishly throwing their loved ones under the bus for supporting a Dream Act – border security compromise, one that protects our families and other undocumented friends. For this reason, the Dreamers who contributed to this open declaration formed DREAM for a Bipartisan Compromise to let their concerns and voices be heard because we are tired of being ignored, attacked, and told to regurgitate inflexibly unrealistic policy rhetoric that does not aim to resolve the issue. We refuse to return to the shadows.  Not all Dreamers think alike, and we are all relevant in this policy debate because we have all contributed in our own ways. Therefore, DREAM for a Bipartisan Compromise announces that it supports the efforts of Democratic and Republican leaders, such as Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsay Graham, Representative Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, as they try to find a legislative fix.
 
Moving Forward
 DREAM for a Bipartisan Compromise does not possess the secret to the perfect negotiated fix on this complex issue. We acknowledge that Republicans want, for instance, an end to chain immigration, E-Verify, more immigration enforcement agents, and a border wall. Should we concede on everything? Of course not. Democratic leaders also have their non-starters when negotiating on a DACA fix. However, what all the pro-immigrant organizations and Dreamers should be doing is debating which border security measures are acceptable in a compromise that would not result in the deportation of our parents and other immigrant friends. If both sides can find the perfect middle ground on the issue of DACA, the immigrant community will make a positive step forward because Dreamers would finally achieve permanent relief. These empowered Dreamers would then have the ability to use their education and skills to serve as guardians for the immigrant community. In exchange, Republicans would be advancing national security and the welfare of American citizens. These “down payments” on legalization and border security could serve as the foundational steps for eventual broader immigration reform that would legalize non-criminal, productive undocumented immigrants who have lived in the shadows for many years. After all, Republicans have continually said that they will legalize the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants when the border is deemed to be secure.7 Now is the time for pro-immigrant organizations and advocates to stop using inflexible negotiation strategies, such as demanding the mentioned “clean” Dream Act, that only endangers 800,000 lives and financially dependent parents. Now is the time to meet at the middle ground and play a helping hand and a pivotal role in finding a pragmatic solution.
 
 This open declaration was prepared by Ricardo Morones Torres, co-founder and second-year law student at the University of San Diego School of Law, and other anonymous members of DREAM for a Bipartisan Compromise. 

1 https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/political-reforms-that-have-helped-to-cripple-thegop/2016/04/14/7bba2c08-0265-11e6-9d3633d198ea26c5_story.html?utm_term=.562fb0aac838
2 https://cis.org/Huennekens/Medias-DACA-Numbers-Are-Misleading
3 http://www.chirla.org/content/what-you-can-do-now-help-daca-recipients-and-fight-dream-act, https://www.facebook.com/undocumedia/posts/1685723908127303, https://unitedwedream.org/press-releases/uwd-our-drive-for-clean-dream-act-remains-steady/
4 http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/351479-key-democrat-naive-to-think-daca-will-passwithout-border-security
5 http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/politics/paul-ryan-daca-response/index.html
6 http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-pol-essential-washington-updates-trumpwould-love-to-do-a-daca-deal-1508954700-htmlstory.html
7 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/07/08/5-facts-about-republicans-and-immigration/

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