A clean Dream Act means passing the Dream Act as it currently stands.
On Sept. 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) progran. In response, there has been renewed attention to the Dream Act. This important immigration bill was first introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin from Illinois in 2001. Since then, the bill has seen changes and amendments. But what does a clean Dream Act mean? What makes it clean or unclean?
Ever since news broke that Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer met with President Trump in private, speculation swirled about what they discussed. In her statement regarding the meeting, Pelosi mentioned that there was a deal with Trump to preserve the tenets of DACA while providing a border security package without the wall. The explanation was vague enough to prompt the undocumented community, led by DACA recipients, to raise the stakes and demand a clean Dream Act. Many feared that in order for Pelosi and Schumer to make their deal work, there would be an increase in deportations of undocumented immigrants not protected by DACA.
“Our message to the Dreamers is that we understand that their futures are not bargaining chips to build a wall across America,” Rep. Joaquin Castro said. “We want to do something that they can be proud of also. It’s impossible to say what exactly that will look like, but we want it to be something that people can be proud of.”
So, what does “clean” mean in clean Dream Act?
As is sits right now, the Dream Act has the potential to impact millions of lives outside of the DACA population. Essentially, those who are directly tied to the Dream Act or DACA are calling on Congress to pass the bill as is, without stipulations, making it clean. The fear echoed by many in the undocumented community is that allowing for things to be attached to the Dream Act, like increased border security and the border wall, could negatively impact them.
“We don’t know what a not-clean Dream Act would look like and nothing will be official until it is official,” says Maria Praeli, an immigration policy associate for FWD.us and a DACA recipient. “We all know the current Dream Act that exist, and that for it to be clean it would have to be passed just as it is. If it was to be attached to something else, we don’t know what that would look like.”
Praeli advises anyone concerned about a clean Dream Act to continue to call their representatives and ask them to either vote for a clean Dream Act or the Dream Act.
So, to recap. A clean Dream Act means passing the current Dream Act of 2017 as is without adding anything to it. It’s not a different bill or new iteration.
Since the Trump administration first announced the recession of DACA, 21,000 people have lost their DACA status because they couldn’t renew by the Oct. 5 deadline. Without action from Congress, we will see more young people lose their ability to work and go to school, and more people afraid to report sexual assaults, rape or other violent crimes out of fear of deportation. Trump’s administration set a deadline of March 5, 2018 for Congress to act and pass the Dream Act of 2017.
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