Daca on hold

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, speaks during a rally for the Dream Act. Congress has put on hold legislation that would secure the future of 800,000 undocumented youth who received relief from deportation via the Dream Act, which President Donald Trump rescinded Sept. 5. Harris, who is Indian American, and several other senators stated Dec. 20 that they would not support a stopgap budget measure unless a fix for DACA was included. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

As members of Congress stated Dec. 19 that measures to provide relief from deportation to over 800,000 undocumented youth would be delayed until next year, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, joined several senators to say she would not support a stopgap budget measure to keep the government going until mid-January, unless a fix for DACA was included.

“This is a matter of morality. What is the right thing to do here among leaders who say they have power,” stated the Indian American senator at a rally in Washington D.C. Dec. 19.

“Use your power. Keep your promises to these young people,” Harris exhorted members of Congress. “When we wish each other ‘Merry Christmas,’ these young kids won’t be having a merry Christmas. They don’t know if they will be here tomorrow, this week or next month,” stated Harris.

These young people’s lives are now in limbo. Without DACA, their only options are to live here without papers and in fear of deportation, or to leave the only country they’ve ever known,” wrote Harris in an op-ed for Elle magazine. “They have no path to citizenship. They can’t leave the country and get in line to immigrate here. There is no line. And for this Administration, that’s the point.”

After Trump rescinded the Dream Act on Sept. 5 – an Obama-era executive order providing relief from deportation and work authorization to 800,000 youth, including 7,000 young Indian Americans – 13,000 Dreamers have lost their protected status, according to Harris. Each day, about 122 children lose their status, she noted, adding: “Each day matters.”

Trump has given Congress until March 5 to come up with legislation to permanently protect undocumented youth from deportation.

A House “continuing resolution” – CR – would avert a government shut-down via a short-term spending bill which funds the government until Jan. 19. Harris, along with Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and others have stated they will not support CR unless DACA provision measures were also in place.

“Given the lack of any realistic plan to pass the Dream Act, it’s my intention to vote against the continuing resolution," Feinstein said in a statement. She called on the president, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, to “to do their job (and) include the Dream Act in this bill.”

Sens. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont; Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts; Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, have pledged to vote against any spending bill that does not include permanent protection for undocumented youth, according to the organization United We Dream.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights – led by Indian American activist Vanita Gupta – also called on members of Congress to vote against CR. “Congress must fix the crisis created by President Trump three months ago that threatens hundreds of thousands of Dreamers and their families,” said Gupta in a press statement, adding: “It is estimated that every day, 122 Dreamers lose their DACA status while they wait for Congress. These families will be ripped apart because of Congress’ failure to act.”

“If the Republican leadership can rush through tax legislation to benefit millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations, surely they can take action for these vulnerable families now,” said Gupta (see earlier India-West story here).

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