Hoosier community groups and businesses have a message for Indiana’s congressional delegation: find a solution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act or DACA. The program allows minors who came to the country illegally to get an education and receive work permits.
It expires March 6, 2018 and the Trump administration has tasked Congress with finding a permanent replacement. There are several pending bills in Congress, including the DREAM act, which would provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients.
Kathy Downy, with U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.)’s office, says this isn’t a partisan issue – all of the pending bills have bipartisan support.
“It is going to take Republicans to engage in this conversation, beyond the conversation, to bring a vote to the floor on DREAM Act. We can’t do it by ourselves,” Downy says.
Carson is one of 200 co-sponsors of the DREAM Act.
While asking their audience to reach out to their legislators, the roundtable also worked to dispel what they call misconceptions about the impact DACA recipients in Indiana.
The Indiana Latino Institute’s Grisel Barajas says two-thirds of DACA recipients are under the age of 25.
“Some of these students don’t even speak Spanish. Some of them haven’t actually lived in their home countries,” Barajas says. “This is the reality of the students we service at ILI. This is also the reality of the students who are all advocating here tonight.”
Members of the roundtable did not forget the parents of DACA recipients. Downy and others say a DACA replacement is only the first step.
“We’re really pushing for a bill that provides that full pathway for young people, and certainly looking to the bigger picture of comprehensive immigration reform,” Downy says. “It doesn’t do any good to protect DREAMers if we’re going to deport parents.”
The roundtable was hosted by FWD.us, a bipartisan advocacy group founded by tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.