Saturday, June 15, will mark one year since President Obama announced a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to spare certain young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation and give them a work permit for two years. Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL) is one of the people who fought hardest to have the President dial back his program of deportations in this manner and has defended the President's action against constant attacks from Republicans. The following is a statement by Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez on the occasion of DACA's first anniversary:
When the President announced the DACA initiative a year ago two things happened. First, young undocumented immigrants who were raised in the United States lined up by the thousands to pay the fee, submit their fingerprints, and sign up. Secondly, despite all the dire predictions of the opponents, the sun came up the next morning. The President and the nation are stronger for him having taken this action.
More than half-a-million children and young adults have applied for temporary relief from deportation and more than 360,000 have been approved and can live their lives and build their futures in the nation they call home. They very bravely came forward, even as Republican candidates and lawmakers constantly threaten to deport them.
I hired José Quintero earlier this year and he will be leaving soon to study architecture in the fall with a scholarship. I just hired our second DACA recipient, Nancy Onofre, who will be in my Cicero, Illinois office working as a congressional aide. They both grew up here and you might not even know they were immigrants if you met them.
When you meet and talk with DACA recipients and other DREAmers like Nancy and José, it is crystal clear that the future of our nation is in very good hands, unless we do something stupid like break up their families or deport them. These young people are now the most important examples of why we need a broad legalization program as part of immigration reform. DACA recipients and DREAMers are fighting at my side and alongside the broader pro-immigrant movement to stop the deportations of their mothers, brothers, and neighbors and they are forceful and persistent and fearless.
The President has immense powers under current law to protect DREAMers, to protect spouses and parents in military families, and to remove the fear of deportation from U.S. citizens whose parents we deport in the tens of thousands. Republicans attack the President for every immigrant family he saves and almost all of the Republicans in the House voted again to deport the DREAMers just last week.
So even as we are making progress towards sensible immigration reform, the hardliners and deportationists are still driving the debate among many House Republicans and are leading the GOP down the same path they led Mitt Romney. I think it will yield similar results."