Immigrants Rising Urges U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary to Protect Immigrant Youth

For Immediate Release

Contact: Beleza Chan at beleza@immigrantsrising.org

Los Angeles, CA (May 22, 2024) – With uncertainties around the fate of the DACA program and another election season around the corner, we recognize the urgency to rally support for Congress and the Biden Administration to take action now and work toward permanent solutions for undocumented people.

On May 8, 2024, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a full committee hearing, titled Dream Deferred: The Urgent Need to Protect Immigrant Youth. Sixteen DACA recipients shared their stories in writing, and 13 immigrant rights organizations, including Immigrants Rising, joined together to write a joint statement through the Home is Here Coalition.

“The continuous legal uncertainties surrounding DACA not only threaten the stability of more than half a million young immigrants but also leave out many more DACA-eligible individuals, further compounding the issue. At Immigrants Rising, we witness every day how undocumented young people are not just students seeking higher education; they are aspiring business leaders, innovators, and educators. By enabling them to contribute fully, we can rectify the missed economic opportunities and foster a more inclusive and prosperous society. Their right to remain and thrive in their homes here in the United States is unequivocal. It’s time for decisive action to protect them and uphold the values of opportunity and justice that define our country,” said Iliana Perez, Executive Director of Immigrants Rising.

We also submitted a statement on May 15, 2024, highlighting the urgent need for legislative relief for undocumented young people and the contributions they have been making to their families, communities, and this country (excerpted below).

Americans overwhelmingly support permanent relief for undocumented young people. We are encouraged by Chair Durbin and Ranking Member Graham’s reintroduction of the Dream Act and related legislation in the House of Representatives in the 118th Congress. Legislative relief is needed now with litigation having already prevented the approval of new applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) and threatening the viability of its protections for existing recipients.

Legislative relief for undocumented young people would eliminate their primary obstacle to accessing higher education, ineligibility for federal and most state-based financial aid. U.S. college and university campuses host more than 408,000 undocumented students as of 2021, with 141,000 undocumented students eligible for DACA or receiving DACA…States that have extended in-state tuition and limited state-assistance to undocumented students have seen their workforces strengthened and postsecondary enrollment increased. Access to federal student aid would multiply these benefits.

Legislative relief for young undocumented individuals would bolster the success of immigrant entrepreneurs by ensuring access to federal and state business-related benefits and incentives that come with lawful status and citizenship, including Small Business Administration Loans. Already over 12,000 DACA recipients own and run businesses, in turn employing other members of their communities. They form part of a larger corps of undocumented entrepreneurs, an estimated 820,000 in strength. Millennials and young people have contributed most to the increase in immigrant entrepreneurs. As DACA remains unavailable to increasing numbers of undocumented youth, many will have to turn to entrepreneurship to support themselves…

Legislative relief for undocumented young people needs to be equitable, without arbitrary bars to eligibility based on interactions with the criminal justice system. Immigrants Rising collected unique data regarding the intersection of immigrant youth, the criminal justice system, and the subsequent impact on availability of relief under legislative proposals, specifically, H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021…Immigrants who are people of color are subject to higher rates of racial profiling, including being detained and arrested by police. This represents a consequence of these policies and counsels against bars to eligibility for arrest-related conduct absent a conviction…

Click here to read our full statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

We appreciate everyone who courageously shared their personal stories, DACA’s impact on their life, and the importance of Congress taking urgent action for a stronger, sustainable tomorrow for all.

You can still voice your support and advocate for comprehensive immigration reform by urging your representatives to support permanent solutions for undocumented individuals. Together, we can turn our shared vision into a reality where all undocumented individuals have the opportunity to thrive and contribute fully to our society.