Call Issued For A “Clean” DREAM Act

Markeshia Ricks PhotoU.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro and state colleges and universities system President Mark Ojakian are calling on the president to stand by his promise to use his heart in deciding the fate of “dreamers.”

The Trump administration announced in September that it would scrap the Obama-era program known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The program protected nearly 800,000 undocumented young immigrants, or dreamers, from deportation from the only home many have ever known. Dreamers had until Thursday to reapply to the program and pay nearly $500 to keep their legal protections through March 2018.

DeLauro, who along with fellow Democrats in Congress, is pushing for a clean DREAM Act, called the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA without a replacement “cruel and inhumane.”

“This did not have to happen,” she said during a roundtable discussion held at Gateway Community College’s downtown New Haven campus Friday. “And all of us who are engaged in this process are going to fight like hell to protect you and your opportunities. So many of us are really livid that this deadline exists and that your future has been placed in jeopardy.”

State colleges and universities system President Mark Ojakian said dreamers in Connecticut are fortunate that they have champions in state government. The state university system takes in dreamers who are denied an education in states that don’t allow undocumented students to matriculate at publicly funded schools.

But he said even in Connecticut there is work to be done. For two years, he has advocated, with no luck, for dreamers to have access to the institutional financial aid that all higher education students in the state pay into. He said if Congress could pass the DREAM Act then undocumented students would have access to that pot of money and there would be no need for state legislation.

Ojakian urged Congress and the president to deal with immigration reform once and for all.

“When the president was talking about this issue he said he would deal with the issue with his heart,” Ojakian said. “Where is the heart in what he did? Mr. President, these are peoples’ lives. We need to be humane in how we deal with people.”

Sergio Ramirez, a dreamer who came to New Haven when he was 9 years old and worked his way o DeLauro’s office as an intern, said Friday that the discussion about immigration is moving backward.

“We have to advocate and bring it home,” said Ramirez, who now works Junta for Progressive Action. “We need a clean DREAM Act and we need it soon.”

DeLauro said critics of DACA should know that the program is not a free ride. It had many requirements that included staying crime free, being enrolled in school and continuously in the country.

“This is no free ride,” she said.

She had some additional words for the president, particularly if Congress can’t or won’t act in time to help the dreamers impacted by the end of DACA.

“You’ve got a job,” she said. “Do your job. That’s what I say to the president of the United States.”


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posted by: 1644 on October 9, 2017  10:37am

1.  The President’s job is to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress.  Obama’s DACA order was an institutionalization of his disregard for his obligation to do so.
2.  The immigration door is wide open for nurses and physical therapists.  Had Ramirez trained in either of those fields (nursing is only a two year or less program), and gotten a job, he could have a green card now.
3.  For those who want to continue in school here, student visas are also pretty easy to get.  They require an embassy interview and confirmation of acceptance at a US school.  We have many foreigners attending school here.
4. DACA recipients with special skills were, until recently, eligible for enlisted in the army, which allowed a fastback to citizenship completely bypassing the green card stage.

posted by: jdossgollin on October 9, 2017  11:52am


1. The President’s executive order was a formal declaration of his administration’s choice of setting priorities for immigration enforcement—something that every president in modern history has done. DACA was an administrative order that said that immigrants who came here young, had clean records, and were contributing to the country would not be targeted for immigration enforcement. Barack Obama’s administration deported more immigrants than George Bush’s.
2. This is simply inaccurate—though if you care to provide information on this program that will help undocumented immigrants currently in the US get a Green Card by training for nursing, I will *happily* eat my words.
3. See #2—visas (including student visas!) are generally not accessible to anyone who has been in the United States without authorization in at least the past ten years.
4. DACA recipients were, until recently, eligible for work visas in the US through the DACA program, so saying they could have taken a different *legal* path would require 20/20 vision. Also worth considering what it does to the armed services to have lots of people who desperately want to be doctors and engineers and lawyers and teachers but are picking up guns because they have to but I’ll let someone who has served make that point

posted by: 1644 on October 9, 2017  12:38pm

jd: DACA did far more than set priorities or say that some folks would not be targeted.  Not only did it say they would not be targeted, it said they would be immune from any enforcement action, at least for the period of their deferral.  We all expect law enforcement to set priorities.  For example, we expect more resources to be devoted to homicides than to traffic enforcement.  I am fine with that.  I do not, however, expect zero enforcement of traffic regulations, nor do I expect to state to give people a literal license to ignore traffic regulations.  When executives decline to execute certain laws, they undermine the rule of law.  This concept applies to all laws, whether they be immigration, drug, civil rights, environmental, tax, or others.
2. As far as nurses see:
Note, a wait time of 90-120 days for a EB (employment based)-3 for qualified nurses with a job offer.  There is more information on the USCIS website, but it’s a bit denser. The government has determined that we have an shortage of nurses (RN) and physical therapists, so employers are free to hire any qualified foreign nurse or therapist without proving that they cannot find a US national.  While I don’t know any nurses who have gone this route, I do know a South African therapist who did.  It’s actually easier for nurses and therapists to get a green card than it is for physicians.
3. So, don’t tell the embassy you have been in the US illegally.  I suspect the former administration’s staff would have turned a blind eye to transgressions of those who came as children, anyway.
4.  Doctors and engineers would be two of the skills that would allow a DACA recipient to get fast-track citizenship through army service.  Regarding 20/20 hindsight, the DACA visas were never for more than two years. , and no one should have had any expectation of action NOT being taken to deport them after the 2 years period .

posted by: jdossgollin on October 9, 2017  2:06pm

2. From that website: “If the foreign worker is legally present in the U.S., he or she may instead apply for permanent resident status via a process called adjustment of status. A nurse in the US can simultaneously apply for the I-140 and for adjustment of status.” The I-140 visa is in high demand and hard to get, and immigrants residing without authorization in the US are not eligible.
3. Unfortunately you are incorrect in suspecting that the embassy (a) doesn’t check whether you have previously been in the US, or (b) doesn’t care.
4. I know people on DACA who are doctors (in medical school actually) and who are engineers—there are no special provisions for them.

I will circulate this post around to see if someone with more legal knowledge can back up what I am saying. However, I think in general most Americans who have never dealt with the immigration system don’t understand how broken and ineffective it is, leading them to think that people who don’t have legal status don’t want to obtain it, or are unwilling to follow well-beaten paths towards it. In reality there are (tens of) millions of people in this country who would give everything they have for permanent legal standing, and who are planning their careers and spending their savings on lawyers to chase legal status.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on October 9, 2017  2:18pm

During the first day of a new Congress, Rep. DeLauro recites the following oath: 
“I, Rosa DeLauro, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion,
and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
You’ve got a job, Rosa.
The duties of your office include upholding the law—not undermining the law.
So do your job. That’s what I say to the person who is ‘supposedly’ my ‘representative’.