Dear Member of Congress,
The undersigned organizations are writing to express our strong support for the immediate passage of the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 (S.1615/H.R. 3440), which would provide lawful status and a clear path to citizenship to certain immigrant youth and young adults who came to the United States as children, including recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As organizations concerned with the emotional, psychological, physical, and economic wellbeing of children and youth, we are united in our commitment to ensuring that all children in the United States have opportunities for educational and economic success.
Swift Congressional action on the Dream Act is imperative following President Trump’s decision to terminate DACA in six months, an action that will uproot the lives of more than 800,000 Dreamers who have been able to access work authorization and protection from deportation through the program. DACA has proven to be smart policy—not only for DACA recipients but also for their families and communities. A large survey of DACA recipients found that 45 percent of DACA youth are enrolled in school and more than 90 percent are employed.
The decision to end DACA will have negative consequences for children and youth across the United States. It immediately caused upheaval for almost a million young immigrants, who are once again worried about their safety and security in the only country they call home. Dreamers reported that receiving DACA gave them hope for the future, instilled a greater sense of belonging and value, and reduced their fear of authorities. Being forced back into the shadows will significantly undermine their mental health and wellbeing. Furthermore, Dreamers are forced to worry about how they will continue to support their families and fund their education without the ability to work.
Ending the program also undercuts the wellbeing of families who depend on DACA recipients, including U.S. citizen children. Roughly a quarter of DACA recipients are parents to U.S. citizen children. Decades of developmental research tells us that children markedly benefit when their parents are mentally and physically healthy and have access to higher education and quality jobs. Moreover, an emerging body of research exposes the developmental harm that children experience as a result of a parent’s unauthorized status. In addition to the negative effects of financial hardship during childhood, children experience tremendous fear and stress at the prospect of being separated from their parents.
Finally, the termination of DACA dashes the hopes of more than 200,000 little Dreamers who have been waiting to turn 15 to meet the program’s age requirements. Like citizen children, they have and will continue to spend the majority of their young lives learning and growing in our schools and communities. Without Congressional action, their dreams of becoming our nation’s future lawyers, doctors, teachers, soldiers, scientists, and policymakers will be cut short.
As organizations dedicated to the health and wellbeing of children, we submit that the bipartisan Dream Act is common-sense legislation to provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients as well as other eligible immigrant youth. The bill reflects the diverse talents and passions of the Dreamer population, including those who are parents. Advancing educational and employment opportunities for millions of children and youth supports their wellbeing and future success as well as that of our country. We urge members of Congress to act quickly and pass a clean Dream Act.