Menendez on DACA Fourth Anniversary
Menendez on DACA Fourth Anniversary
WASHINGTON, DC – In remarks submitted for the permanent Senate record, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and expressed his sincere hope that the upcoming Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Texas builds on DACA’s success and allows expanded DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) to move forward to keep families together.
Here are the Senator’s remarks as submitted to the Senate Record:
“I rise on this fourth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program for all of the young men and young women it has helped bring out of the shadows – young men and woman who came to this country as children and, because of DACA, have had the security of temporary deportation relief and work authorization so they could achieve their full potential as young Americans.
“I celebrate DACA’s anniversary with great pride and tremendous hope. For years, I pushed hard to make this program a reality. I’ve spoken directly – and frankly -- to the President many times about granting long-overdue administrative relief to Dreamers, who are Americans in every way except for a piece of paper.
“And four years ago -- with the tireless advocacy of Dreamers and the power of their individual stories --- with the help of the immigrant community, community leaders in cities and towns across America and countless Members of Congress, the President took action and changed the lives of thousands of young men and women, allowing them to fully contribute to the country they call home – the only country they have ever known.
“DACA recipients are part of our communities in all 50 states. New Jersey ranks 9th in the nation with over 34, 000 approved DACA applications. These young people have been granted the most important thing they could have -- the peace of mind that comes with temporary protection from deportation and the ability to work and contribute.
"Since its inception, DACA has harnessed their talents in measurable ways, and is a success today because of the President’s bold Executive Actions in June of 2012. In an immigration system as flawed as ours, DACA has been a beacon of hope – one shining light leading the way toward fairness, justice, and a better life for so many immigrants looking for a chance to succeed in America as Americans.
“The numbers tell the story. DACA has been granted to approximately 728,000 young immigrants. It has strengthened our economy. A survey by the National Immigration Law Center and the Center for American Progress, found that after obtaining DACA, more than two-thirds of recipients were able to secure a job with higher pay and their wages rose by an average of 45 percent.
“Higher wages are not just good for DACA recipients but for all Americans. It stimulates economic growth. Translates into more tax revenue. DACA has allowed young Americans to open bank accounts, get a driver’s license, go to college, and prepare for a stable, economically secure, and financially solvent future for themselves and their families.
“There is no question in my mind -- and the numbers prove it – that DACA has been a model of success. And that success has been shaped by the courageous young men and women who decided to come forward, register with the government, subject themselves to a background check, work hard, and take advantage of every single opportunity that DACA provides.
“These young men and women and their families represent who we are as a nation. They embody the spirit of American life, which has always been shaped by the hopes, dreams, and courage of those who have made this country their home.
“In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, DACA allows these young people to live with dignity and without the fear of deportation – the fear of being separated from their families. Now, they are our newest college students, teachers, and small business owners.
“So here we are – with the perspective of four years of DACA success – four years of dreams fulfilled, potential reached – and proof that all of America benefits when an undocumented individual steps out of the shadows. Proof that, when we give people a chance, they can make it on their own ingenuity, skill, and hard work – and they will not only contribute to the economy but to the strength of America.
“With the lessons of four years of DACA, it should be clear that we need to build upon DACA’s success – not turn our backs on extending fair opportunities to those who are willing to work hard for them.
“For many, the Dream began with DACA. For others, the Dream remains only a dream – delayed because of a politically motivated lawsuit of U.S. v. Texas. A case which has blocked the President’s more recent Executive Actions, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Legal Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded DACA from being implemented.
“These new programs provide temporary relief from deportation and a work permit to parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident children and a larger group of DREAMers. The case is currently before the Supreme Court and we expect the Court to issue a decision this month.
“I attended oral arguments on April 18th and remain hopeful that the Justices will see through the hate and the political theater -- and that it will be clear that our nation governs by its values – that we favor building bridges instead of walls.
“And I am not alone in that hope. I was joined by 224 members of Congress in filing an amicus brief outlining the legality and importance of implementing the President’s DAPA and expanded DACA programs. We felt the need to show our support for the President’s actions while pushing back against the jingoism, isolationism, and xenophobia of those who insist on leaving millions of families, millions of parents of U.S. children stuck in the shadows.
“With this case, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to do something positive -- to provide temporary relief from deportation and a work permit to almost 4 million parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. It would allow the current DACA program to be expanded to benefit almost 300,000 more DREAMers. Combined, these programs would help almost 5 million immigrants waiting for a chance to come out of the shadows.
“And we know, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, DAPA and expanded DACA have one dramatic impact that cannot be denied – they give young people, and their parents, the peace of mind every family deserves – to be able to build their lives together.
“It is my sincere hope that the politics of what is happening in this lawsuit and with the immigration rhetoric in general will be abundantly clear to the Supreme Court and we will have a positive ruling that allows expanded DACA and DAPA to move forward, bring some order and keep hard working families together.
“I believe the Supreme Court will agree that the President’s executive actions are within his legal authority, that they represent the very best of American values and a fundamental respect for family unity. This is a pivotal legal battle over what amounts to the basic humanity of American immigration policy.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say: people’s lives and families are at stake. It’s personal. I have spoken to police chiefs, teachers, religious leaders, moms and dads, and U.S. citizen children and it’s clear that these policies are just and humane to keep these families together.
“Ultimately, the only way to fix our broken immigration system is for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation. I will continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that will fix our nation’s broken immigration system once and for all. Not just because it makes good economic sense, but because it is the right thing to do. Because we are a nation of immigrants.
“DACA’s success should further encourage Congress to move forward, fortified by the conviction that comprehensive immigration reform is a fight worth fighting for.
“But today, I join my colleagues in commemorating DACA’s anniversary as a day that marks four years of smart and successful policy, as a step in the right direction, and as a foundation upon which we can continue to build. The foundation that the Supreme Court should look to when ruling on DAPA and expanded DACA.
“Let’s work to extend the American Dream to all.”