On Tuesday, we received the devastating news that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, also known as the program benefiting DREAMers, had been rescinded by the Trump administration. Many of the DREAMers who benefited from this program have only known this country as their home and have made tremendous contributions to our communities through their work, service, and educational achievements.
The DACA program, established by President Obama in 2012, provided work authorization and deferred action from deportation to individuals who were brought to the United States without lawful status before the age of 16, who were studying or had already obtained their high school diploma or their general educational development certificate (GED), and had no criminal history. Furthermore, DACA provided to many of these youth with an opportunity to continue dreaming and giving back to the only country they have known as their home. The lives of the DACA recipients, many of them whom are our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family members, are again clouded by uncertainty.
It’s also important to highlight that this announcement does not only impact the lives of DACA recipients, but it also causes immediate harm to our state’s businesses, colleges and universities, and our overall economy.
Washington State is one of the few states in the county that has passed tuition equity laws to support undocumented students. This includes HB 1079, which was signed into law in 2003, to allow undocumented students that meet certain requirements to qualify for in-state tuition as well as the Washington State Dream Act, which was signed into law in 2014, to also offer them with access to the State Need Grant program.
Over the years, we’ve come to know DREAMers and their families as hardworking and contributing members of our community. For this reason, I was pleased to co-sponsor and vote for a motion in support of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which passed unanimously from the King County Council meeting on Tuesday, September 5th. The legislation calls on Congress to take action on this issue by protecting DACA recipients and directs King County’s federal government relations team to prioritize efforts in Congress to continue DACA protections and requests this team to commence efforts to build a broad coalition of county officials nationwide.
I am encouraged by the efforts of other elected leaders from our state as well as across the nation who are also making similar calls to protect DREAMers. I’m proud to stand with DREAMers.
Photo credit: Venice Buhain (http://www.seattleglobalist.com/2017/09/06/seattle-rallies-in-support-of-daca/68453) “Photo of Paul Quinonez with the Washington Dream Coalition speaks about his experience under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.”