DREAM Act – Action Needed NOW Senate May Consider Legislation Week of February 12

Updated as of 2018-02-13
On November 14, 20 members of the UUSJ Advocacy Corps met with staff in eight Senate offices to urge immediate passage of a clean Dream Act. Overall, 60 offices were visited. Around 400 personal letters to Senators from UU constituents were delivered to 16 offices and all received a packet of three letters from UUSJ, UUA and UUSC 

 


As of February 13: Action is possible in the Senate this week. Within 48 hours the US Senate will consider amendments and legislation that will help shape a bill that could give a pathway to DACA recipients to permanent legal status or citizenship. (“Dreamers” are young immigrants who were brought into this country as children without legal authorization and grew up here.)

For background on all the bills see this excellent comparison by PBS “Every Immigration Proposal in One Chart” by Lisa Desjardins posted February 13, 2018.

Based on information from our partners at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (link here for FCNL update on status of bills being considered) we are calling for action on these key amendments:

Key Amendments

SUPPORT: The Coons-McCain amendment (#1955) offers a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers. This amendment is a bipartisan, narrowly-tailored legislative solution that would permanently and responsibly protect immigrant youth, while also addressing data-driven, accountable border enforcement that upholds the rule of law and recognizes the importance of consultation with border communities.
OPPOSE: The Grassley Amendment (#1959) would dismantle access to family reunification, add $25 billion to deportation and border enforcement mechanisms, eliminate the diversity visa lottery system, and jeopardize access to asylum for children. While the bill offers a 12 year pathway to citizenship, it mandates gravely disproportional consequences that would result in immediate deportation for Dreamers seeking citizenship.

 

 

Page Contents (click on a title to go to that section):


Action Needed NOW: What You Can Do

1 – Organize a Write Here! Write Now! letter-writing table in your congregation for letters to be delivered to Congressional offices in Washington, DC. Click here to download WHWN handout for the Dream Act 2017.

The UUSJ Capitol Hill Advocacy Corps delivered letters received by mail and email in November. Pending Senate and House action. At this time calls and emails are needed ASAP.  If you have any questions email to advocacy@uusj.org for more information or to make arrangements for us to hand deliver any letters from your congregation. It is essential that each letter include the name, street address and zip code of the constituent.

2 – Contact your Senators. [prior to February 12 — for reference only this UUSJ background information and sample letter was used to guide our advocacy messages for the Dream Act 2017.] NOW tell your Senators to support the Coons-McCain amendment, and oppose the Grassley Amendment. See this helpful information to compare all the bills that are in play here:

Check here to see if your Senator is a co-sponsor of the Dream Act 2017, and here for House members the the Dream Act 2017 to thank them.

Suggested message by phone or email:

(If your Senator is already a co-sponsor, thank them for supporting Dreamers and urge them.)

Hi, my name is [your name] I’m a constituent from [city, state]. 

I am a Unitarian Universalist from (name of congregation and location). Guided by my faith, I believe that no human being is illegal. I stand in solidarity with Dreamers, young immigrants who were brought here without authorization through no fault of their own.

Please tell Senator [name] to:

SUPPORT: The Coons-McCain amendment (#1955) offers a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers.
OPPOSE: The Grassley Amendment (#1959) would dismantle access to family reunification, add $25 billion to deportation and border enforcement mechanisms, eliminate the diversity visa lottery system, and jeopardize access to asylum for children.

Thank you.

Virginia:
Sen. Mark Warner (202) 224-2023
Sen. Tim Kaine (202) 224-4024

Maryland:
Sen. Ben Cardin (202) 224-4524
Sen. Chris Van Hollen (202) 224-4654

U.S. Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 or use our partner, NETWORK’s, toll free hotline to the Senate, which they provided for a previous action (ignore the message) 1-888-738-3058

To find Congressional e-mail addresses or other information, visit these Congressional websites:

3 – Ask your friends and family members to contact their Senators and Representatives, too.

Send them the link to this page – http://bit.ly/TakeAction4DreamAct.

 

4 – Spread the word – Post messages to social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.).

Include the link to this page – http://bit.ly/TakeAction4DreamAct.

Hashtags  – #DreamAct, #Dreamers, #ProtectDreamers, #WeAreAllDreamers

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What’s Happening

As of February 13, 2018 the Senate is considering legislation (see FCNL update here) but it is not the Dream Act 2017 S.1615/H.R.3440 (acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) a bipartisan legislative proposal that has been considered by the House of Representatives and Senate since 2001, but never passed. It seeks to address the difficult situation of young people living in the US without legal authorization, to shield them from deportation and provide a pathway to permanent legal status or citizenship. It is one piece of the larger puzzle of comprehensive immigration reform. 

In 2012, the Obama Administration established and implemented DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) to give temporary protection to this vulnerable group of people. This administrative program gave these “Dreamers” the temporary right to live, study and work in the US, without fear of deportation. Recipients had to fit certain qualifications and renew their status every two years. 70% of recipients were 10 years old or younger when they came to the United States, and 71% have a U.S. citizen spouse, sibling, or child. The average age of DACA recipients is 25.

President Trump has cancelled the DACA program and given Congress until March 2018 to pass a legislative solution. Nearly 700,000 Dreamers were in the DACA program at the time Trump ended it. Their DACA-related status will begin to expire in March 2018, unless Congress creates a legislative pathway to temporary or permanent legal immigration status for them. All Dreamers will lose their status by March 2020.

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Our UU Spiritual Grounding

In 2013 our Unitarian Universalist General Assembly passed a Statement of Conscience on “Immigration as a Moral Issue” which states: “Our Unitarian Universalist Principles and Sources compel us to affirm that all immigrants, regardless of legal status, should be treated justly and humanely.” We strongly support a just and equitable reform of our nation’s immigration laws.

The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and Thomas Andrews, President and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), issued this statement in response to the Trump administration’s announcement to end the DACA program.

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Background, Resources and Relevant News Media Coverage Links

Before December 19, 2017

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