Friday, February 23

Submission: UCLA community needs to mobilize, support clean DREAM Act


Eight-hundred thousand immigrant youth, some of whom are your peers and friends at UCLA, are hanging by a thread because of partisan politics.

The recent U.S. government shutdown – which started Friday night – was largely prompted by the debate between those who support these 800,000 immigrant youth and those who are using them as a bargaining chip to demand repressive immigration policies.

Last year, President Donald Trump’s administration announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an action that would eliminate protection from deportation and work authorization for youth brought to the U.S. as children. The DACA program’s protections will begin to expire in March.

The DACA program has been a lifeline for immigrant youth. It enables them to no longer live in fear of deportation and allows them to use their experience and education to legally work and contribute to the U.S. As per a study by Tom Wong, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, the program has contributed, on average, to an increase of over 40 percent in wages for immigrant youth as they are no longer forced to work exclusively in the underground economy where exploitation and abuse are rampant.

The DACA program impacts the UCLA community, and its removal threatens our classmates and colleagues. There are about 700 DACA recipients enrolled at UCLA as students, and about 150 DACA recipients who are UCLA employees. The elimination of DACA would not only negatively impact immigrant youth and their families but would also hurt our society as a whole. It would prevent undocumented immigrants from contributing to our economy and society, and would intensify immigrant family separation and suffering.

We can’t escape it: These consequences will hit especially close to home if we do not act.

The UC community has a history of fighting for undocumented students. UCLA students and alumni have been leading the fight to keep the DACA program from expiring, as they did for the passage of the California Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, which became law in 2011 and greatly expanded the enrollment of and financial aid resources for undocumented students in higher education throughout California. The University of California also sued the Trump administration over its elimination of the DACA program, and temporarily prevented the Trump administration from ending it.

But we can do more than wait for the lawsuit. Students and alumni can demand a fix now by passing the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act is a bipartisan bill that has sat in Congress since 2001. It would provide undocumented immigrant youth who complete two years of college or service in the U.S. military a pathway to legalization and citizenship.

A clean DREAM Act without any anti-immigrant provisions, such as building Trump’s absurd border wall or intensifying deportations, would go a long way in securing the safety and rights of immigrant youth who have always called the U.S. their home. Some leading members of Congress, including Sen. Kamala Harris, have made passing the DREAM Act a central demand in federal budget negotiations, but anti-immigrant forces instead provoked the government shutdown.

Countless people throughout the country mobilized in December to support passage of the clean DREAM Act. At the end of fall quarter, students and allies of the UCLA Downtown Labor Center joined with FWD.us, UndocuMedia and the Dream Resource Center to hold a phone bank where volunteers contacted members of Congress and urged them to pass the clean DREAM Act.

Nationwide, demonstrations and press conferences are being held regularly, especially in the nation’s capital. The UCLA community should do all it can to support these efforts by calling members of Congress, participating in press events and public rallies and encouraging our colleagues and classmates to take action.

We are a nation of immigrants. Immigrants have been and continue to be part of the very fabric of society, and our economy is wholly dependent on their labor. The UCLA community should stand united for civil and human rights, and for just and humane immigration policies. A clean DREAM Act achieves those ideals.

Mora is a UCLA alum and co-founder of UndocuMedia, a nonprofit organization that employs digital tools to inform immigrants in the U.S. Wong is the director of the UCLA Labor Center.

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  • CathodeGlow

    Sorry – dreamers are nothing but recipients of stolen assets. They were illegally smuggled into the US past millions and millions of legitimate would-be immigrants. They have no honor, no standing and no shame.

    • slickjim10

      No honor and no shame would be you. You try and equate human beings to smuggled goods and holders of some stolen asset? You’re disgusting.

      • Dre_loves_Trump

        Hey Snowflake… get your head out of the toilet and see the real world.. If given a chance over 80% of this world would immigrate to America… The world has a growing underclass/uncivilized population that is bursting from its seams… Africa goes from 1 billion people to 4 billion people in 30 years… The middle east doubles in the same time… We have a ticking time bomb and if we don’t address the situation now we will certainly end up like Europe… I have a feeling we’re already too late..

        • slickjim10

          Just because you throw words around like snowflake, or have a position contrary to the author, doesn’t mean you have to be an a-hole about stuff. That’s where the lack of respect comes in, and again, it’s disgusting. These are still people that came to our country looking for work when all is said and done, just like all of our forefathers did. When that type of language and attitude is used it shows people probably care less about the impact of immigration and more that their vitriol is probably rooted in blatant racism.

  • Pelosi’s Derrière

    “We are a nation of immigrants.”

    Actually, the vast majority of US residents were born here.

  • DonHonda

    Is this what to expect from DREAMers?:

    http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/opinion/commentary/sdut-ruben-navarrette-one-dreamers-missed-lesson-2015jun24-story.html

    Ruben Navarrette: One Dreamer’s missed lesson in good character

    And just who is the typical DREAMer?

    https://cis.org/Vaughan/Research-Dreamers-Contradicts-Public-Image
    Research on Dreamers Contradicts Public Image

    ” 73 percent of DACA recipients he surveyed live in a low-income household (defined as qualifying for free lunch in high school);
    22 percent have earned a degree from a four-year college or university;
    20 percent have dropped out of high school;*
    20 percent have no education beyond high school and no plans to attend college;
    59 percent obtained a new job with a DACA work permit, but only 45 percent increased their overall earnings; and
    36 percent have a parent who holds a bachelor’s degree.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-dreamers-daca-narrative-0914-story.html
    Don’t buy into all of that rosy PR about DACA

    http://www.troyrecord.com/opinion/20171215/ruben-navarette-dreamers-dont-let-dems-fool-you
    Ruben Navarette: Dreamers: Don’t let Dems fool you

    “Dreamers, this is your wake-up call. Democrats want you to think they’re in your corner. But it’s not so.

    The Democrats failed you. Don’t let them fool you.”

  • DonHonda

    An Atlantic Monthly article that shows that most economists’ thinking that an increased influx of immigrants provides more jobs for Americans is FALSE and does harm jobs for US workers and the economy:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/01/does-immigration-harm-working-americans/384060/

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DEFDC1430F934A15750C0A9609C8B63

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/03/27/notes-on-immigration/
    The Conscience Of A Liberal–Paul Krugman

    “First, the benefits of immigration to the population already here are small.”
    ” But as Mr. Hanson explains in his paper, reasonable calculations suggest that we’re talking about very small numbers, perhaps as little as 0.1 percent of GDP.

    “My second negative point is that immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants. That’s just supply and demand…

    “Finally, the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear. ”

    Also, it is patently untrue that “immigrants” are the solution to low rate of start-ups:

    http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/01/immigration-reform-declining-start-rate.html

  • Vince Tagliano

    I’d rather see the citizens of the nations that are sending the most illegal immigrants to the West mobilize to clean up their own backyards first.