5 years ago today, the first undocumented youth became DACAmented. Today, on the fifth anniversary of the day the first undocumented youth applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, we joined immigrant youth activists and leaders outside the White House to take a stand against an administration that seeks to destroy families and rip young immigrants from their homes.
Today, we stood with United We Dream because an attack on one is an attack on all. In the process of expressing solidarity with our immigrant friends and neighbors, we, along with other activists and allies, were arrested by the United States Park Police. As we have said from day one, an attack on one is an attack on all of us, which is why we felt it important to stand with immigrant communities who are being terrorized by the Trump Administration. And we feel it important to tell you why.
DACA works. In 2012, the Obama Administration recognized that there were millions of undocumented young immigrants who grew up in the U.S., and who were American in every sense of the word, except on paper. President Obama, using the powers granted to him as chief executive, created the DACA program to grant relief from deportation to these young people, if they met a number of requirements, including background checks. The program has allowed approximately 800,000 young people the opportunity to live and work lawfully in the U.S.
DACA has proven effective in helping young immigrants who were brought here as children build successful lives in the United States. Nearly all DACA recipients are either working or in school, nine in ten have obtained a driver’s license or a state ID, over half have bought their first car, and 12 percent have bought their first home. DACAmented youth are taxpaying Americans who are making greater contributions to our economy, democracy, and society as a result of the DACA program.
DACA was achieved because undocumented youth refused to give up. We must do the same. When the DACA program went into effect five years ago today, it was the culmination of years of fierce and determined advocacy by thousands of undocumented youth. It wasn’t easy, and it came at great personal risk to undocumented youth and their families. But, like so many other immigrants have done through the course of this nation’s history, they demanded justice for themselves, their friends, and their families. They came out of the shadows to draw attention to their plight and the plight of millions of others like them, for whom America is their only home. They risked arrest and deportation in order to make change. They were unafraid and they were unwavering. And we must be, too.
Trump’s unprecedented attacks on immigrants make this fight more important than ever. Now, under the Trump Administration, these brave DACAmented youth are under constant threat of deportation. Although the DACA program has wide-ranging support from elected officials across the political spectrum, the Trump White House is standing idly by as a vocal minority of anti-immigrant state officials threatens to unravel the entire program in the courts. Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, there are 10 states (TX, AL, AR, ID, KS, LA, NE, SC, TN, and WV) that are calling for an end to the DACA program. They have given the Trump Administration an ultimatum: get rid of DACA or they will ask a judge to do it.
To protect our nation’s immigrants, we must fight. We need to recognize that the threat to DACA is only a small part of a larger, entirely unprecedented attack against immigrants, refugees, and people of color. Just this week, in a move that would further embolden his white supremacist supporters, reports surfaced indicating that Trump is “seriously considering” pardoning Joe Arpaio who built a career on racist abuse against people of color and was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a state judge’s order to stop profiling of immigrants.
So many of these attacks are driven by alt-right firebrands like Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon, and Sebastian Gorka, who now work for Trump in the White House. But these white nationalists in the White House still need Congress to help them. Trump is asking Congress to pour $23 billion of your tax dollars into his radical anti-immigrant agenda. That’s right—he wants to use taxpayer money to fund the boots, walls, and detention facilities that make up his out-of-control deportation machine. Trump’s budget would cut vital investments in families and communities to pay for an anti-immigrant campaign designed to spread fear and tear apart communities.
To stand indivisible, you must stand up for immigrants on your home turf. We will not stand idly by while the Trump Administration, with avowed white supremacists occupying senior White House positions, rips people from their homes and from their families. That’s why today, on the National Day of Action to Defend DACA, Indivisible and our allies are standing up to say that immigrants are welcome here. Across the country, Indivisible groups are supporting immigration activists like United We Dream, CASA, and more at events to show that we will stand up and speak out for immigrants in our communities.
We were proud to stand with our immigrant friends and allies in Washington, DC today, and we are proud to stand beside them every day as we fight together against Trump’s attacks on immigrant communities.
We are in awe of the bravery of those leading the charge, and we pledge to do everything we can to make sure they’re here to stay.