As you know, ACE has been working for a number of months, with the support of so many of you, on the issue of protecting “Dreamers,” the outstanding group of young people brought to the United States as infants or children.
The term Dreamers includes the population covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. DACA recipients have temporary permission to stay in the country and obtain work permits. However, the Trump administration earlier this month announced it is rescinding DACA as of March 5, 2018. Many Dreamers, roughly 350,000 out of 800,000 DACA recipients, are enrolled in college and are making valuable contributions to our campuses, as well as the country as a whole.
With the agreement between President Trump and congressional Democratic leaders to try to reach a deal on a permanent legislative solution, we are at a crucial moment in the effort to persuade Congress to pass legislation enshrining protections for Dreamers into statute. I write you early this week to ask for your help in shining the spotlight on the accomplishments of Dreamers in a way that hits home with individual lawmakers.
I hope you will consider actions to raise the importance of passing Dreamers legislation with the U.S. senators and representatives in your states.
ACE’s Division of Government and Public Affairs has prepared some resources you can use to communicate with public officials, including this set of talking points and this issue brief on the topic of DACA and Dreamers. You may also want to refer to the recent letter ACE and more than 75 other higher education associations sent to congressional leaders asking for quick action on such legislation.
Communications can be public or private. It might be an op-ed in a local paper, perhaps co-written with a Dreamer student, or a phone call to a member of Congress. Individual stories of your DACA students are incredibly important and useful in demonstrating the human aspect of this issue, so we encourage you to include personal stories and examples of how this is affecting your campus and your DACA students in such communications. Consider bringing a Dreamer from your campus with you on a visit to a member of Congress.
You also could propose a profile of an outstanding Dreamer enrolled at your institution to a key local publication, noting the national context of what is happening with DACA and the push for Dreamers legislation. This may prompt the reporter to go to local lawmakers to ask where they stand on the issue.
There appears to be bipartisan support for Dreamers legislation, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said that it is not in our national interest to deport Dreamers. However, we must not assume Congress will act. Now is the time to ensure that all lawmakers have no doubt that it is, to paraphrase Speaker Ryan, in our national interest to protect these bright and talented young people who are working, studying in our colleges and universities or serving in the armed forces.
We are grateful for any effort you can make on this important issue.