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Letter to the Hon. Barack Obama - Protect Immigrants' Private Data

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Dear President Obama:

We write to express our concerns about the potential misuse of the personal information of enrollees in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. We urge you to consider taking executive action to prevent DACA enrollees' personal information from being used for purposes other than originally intended, including for the purposes of removal.

When your Administration first introduced the DACA program in 2012, it gave hope to many children of immigrants--commonly referred to as "Dreamers"--who were brought to this country at very young ages. Since the implementation of DACA, we have been able to see firsthand the profound effect that the program has had on the lives of the children and young adults it protects. Over 740,000 young Dreamers have been issued Social Security numbers and work permits, and many have used the benefits provided under DACA to seek job opportunities openly for the very first time. The DACA program allowed these individuals to enjoy many of the essential benefits, privileges, and responsibilities of American society that they had been denied for so long. Dreamers granted deferred action under DACA were freed from the constant fear of deportation to countries that many of them do not even know and do not call home; they responded by enriching their communities and becoming civically engaged in American life.

As a condition of receiving the guarantees of DACA, these children and young adults submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) numerous sources of information to verify identity, including fingerprints and other biometric data. They also underwent background checks and provided their home addresses, where family members may also reside. Other sensitive information, such as documentation of an arrest or charge of a misdemeanor in the United States or any other country, was also requested of applicants for DACA. In asking these undocumented youth for extensive personally identifying information, the Administration effectively asked them to place their trust in the government. Now many of those same Dreamers are wondering whether their trust was misplaced, fearing for their future in the United States, and questioning whether they can or should seek protection under DACA.

Countless community advocates, organizers, and public servants have promoted the DACA program to Dreamers on the premise that the information they supply to DHS would not be used to deport them in the future. We cannot stand by and allow the Trump Administration to exploit the trust these young Americans placed in us and the government.

We believe that when government makes promises it should keep them. We urge you to do everything within your power to safeguard the personal identifying information of DACA enrollees, including issuing an Executive Order prohibiting the use of DACA enrollee information for purposes other than originally intended. While this program is a significant part of the Administration's legacy, it is more importantly a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of young Dreamers looking to lead productive and peaceful lives as members of American society.


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