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New Mexico Senator Tom Udall on Protecting DACA and the Dreamers

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Tom Acknowledges 2 New Mexico DREAMers in Speech, Calls for Prompt Homeland Security Funding. Senator Tom Udall shared the stories of two hardworking DREAMers from New Mexico in a speech from the Senate floor. His speech came just after voting against beginning debate on a bill to fund ...

March 15, 2018

Thank you for contacting me regarding President Trump's action to formally end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program. This program was put in place in 2012 by an executive order issued by President Obama to defer the deportation of qualifying young persons and children who are in the United States without documentation. DACA recipients receive work permits and deportation relief through the program. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that it will rescind the DACA Program in March 2018, giving Congress six months to develop an alternative policy to protect the nearly 700,000 recipients also known as DREAMers. In accordance with this announcement, the Department of Homeland Security will no longer accept new applications, but those who currently have a DACA permit set to expire on or before March 5, 2018, will be eligible to continue working until their permits expire. Some applicants were also allowed to apply for a two year legal status renewal, no later than October 5, 2017. Since the announcement, two U.S. district courts have issued injunctions, halting President Trump's attempt to end the DACA program. On February 26, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear requests for review from the Trump Administration of the district courts' decisions. This will temporarily shield current DACA recipients, and allow them to continue working or going to school in the United States while the courts make final determinations in these cases.

I believe the President's decision to end the DACA program is a cruel and short-sighted mistake that causes chaos for families and our economy. The 700,000 DREAMers -- including almost 7,000 New Mexicans -- who qualified for DACA represent some of our best and brightest. They are talented, patriotic young adults who want to finish their education and work as teachers, doctors, and engineers, and many other vocations. DACA authorizes them to stay with their families and give back to their community and the United States -- the only country many of them have ever known.

To protect DREAMers, I support the DREAM Act of 2017. This bill was introduced on July 20, 2017, by Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and Richard Durbin (IL). This bipartisan legislation would provide a pathway to earn lawful permanent residency and eventually U.S. citizenship for individuals who are undocumented, have DACA or temporary protected status, and who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program. Upon introduction, S. 1615 was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary where it awaits further action.

I have consistently urged the Senate to act quickly to protect DREAMers, including speaking out on the Senate floor several times. On January 19, 2018, I voted against the House Republicans' proposal to yet again temporarily fund the government through February 16, 2018, without addressing the nation's critical priorities. This bill did not include protection for the 700,000 DREAMers whose legal status is in jeopardy. It also further weakened the Affordable Care Act, putting more New Mexicans at risk of losing health insurance they depend on, and it failed to include disaster assistance for Puerto Rico, Texas, and other regions still recovering from last year's devastating storms and wildfires. In a vote of 50 to 49, the Senate failed to advance this bill.

On January 23, 2017, after a three day government shutdown, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders reached an agreement to approve the bill and re-open the government. The deal funds government operations through February 8, 2018, reauthorizes the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years, and committed Senate Majority Leader McConnell to hold a vote on immigration legislation that includes protection for DREAMers.

During the week of February 12, 2018, the Senate considered, debated, and voted on four separate immigration proposals. I was pleased that the Senate rejected President Trump's immigration plan, by a large 39 to 60 vote margin, which would have provided $25 billion for a wasteful and offensive border wall that would have negatively impacted New Mexico's economy and also made steep cuts to legal immigration, including preventing family unification. I supported a bipartisan solution offered by Senators McCain and Coons that would have enacted the DREAM Act, with reasonable border security enhancements, but not a wasteful wall. However, that amendment failed to achieve the 60 votes necessary to advance, with a roll call vote of 52 to 47. Unfortunately, while President Trump ended the DACA program, he is also rejecting any reasonable bipartisan solutions, despite his promises to do so. Nevertheless, I will keep working to protect the DREAMers and their families and communities.

I remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform that would provide an earned path to legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Please rest assured that I will continue to fight to protect DREAMers.

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. Please feel free to contact me with your concerns regarding any federal issue by visiting my website at www.tomudall.senate.gov. For more information, you may also visit my Facebook page at .facebook.com/senatortomudall and receive up to the minute updates through my Twitter page at tter.com/senatortomudall.

Very truly yours,

Tom Udall

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