Eagle County Democrats: An open letter to our members of Congress regarding DACA (column)
September 28, 2017
Editor's note: Find a cited version of this column at http://www.vaildaily.com.
Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions (named for two Confederate collaborators) perpetuated this shameful tradition when he announced the end of an executive order signed by President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
Sessions echoed common misleading and inaccurate Republican talking points about DACA. He claimed that Obama's executive order was "an unconstitutional exercise of authority." DACA, however, was never argued before the Supreme Court, the arbiter on matters of constitutionality, so this claim represents Sessions' personal belief, not a judicial opinion.
Sessions also claimed that DACA "provided legal status for recipients." Yet, the Homeland Security website specifically stated it did not confer legal status on recipients. He claimed that DACA resulted in a surge of minors entering the country. However, the "surge" he refers to began four years before DACA was implemented and was due largely to victims of violence fleeing countries such as Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. These are just a few of the numerous fictions repeated by Sessions.
Here are the truths that matter: Republicans continue to emphasize that this program is not about children, but adults. They completely miss the point. Only those brought to the United States as children are eligible to apply. The average age of arrival in the United States of DACA recipients is 7.
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Sessions would have you believe that the administration was moved to act due to concerns about public safety, but DACA recipients must pass a background check and risk losing their DACA status if they are arrested. Furthermore, DACA recipients are not a drain on taxpayers for two significant reasons: They pay taxes, and they are ineligible for public assistance programs such as food stamps or Medicaid.
According to an article in the Washington Post, Alonso Guillen, 31, was brought to the United States when he was 8. He grew up in Lufkin, Texas, and worked as a host at a local radio station. After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, he and several of his friends piled into a pickup and set out to help. On Aug. 29, the rescue boat Guillen was riding in struck an Interstate 45 bridge and he was thrown from the boat. His body was recovered three days later.
Guillen was a friend, a neighbor, a good son, a hard worker, a doer, a helper and a Dreamer. There are many more Dreamers like him. More than 900 Dreamers serve in our military, protecting our freedom. News reports tell of others such as Aldo Martinez, a paramedic; Hina Naveed, a nurse, and Gaby Pacheco, who started a scholarship program for other Dreamers.
More than 400 CEOs signed a letter addressed to President Donald Trump and Congressional leadership supporting DACA. The letter summarized the contribution of Dreamers to our economy: "All DACA recipients grew up in America, registered with our government, submitted to extensive background checks and are diligently giving back to our communities and paying income taxes. More than 97 percent are in school or in the workforce, 5 percent started their own business, 65 percent have purchased a vehicle and 16 percent have purchased their first home. At least 72 percent of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies count DACA recipients among their employees."
The Eagle County Democratic Party supports DACA and calls on all our members of Congress — Rep. Scott Tipton, Rep. Jared Polis, Sen. Cory Gardner and Sen. Michael Bennet — to support DACA and stand with the Dreamers.
The Eagle County Democratic Party can be contacted through its website at wordpress.eagledems.org or found on Facebook.