TRENTON – Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Senator Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) today introduced a resolution urging Congress to enact legislation to codify the provisions of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program into law. The Senators’ call for action in Washington, D.C. comes as Dreamers face today’s deadline set by the Trump Administration to file DACA renewal applications.
“Putting an end to DACA is divisive, counter-productive and mean-spirited,” said Senator Pou. “The Administration’s actions possess a looming threat to the 800,000 Americans and the 22,000 New Jersey Dreamers who could be targets of deportation because of a vindictive political agenda. I urge Congress to codify the protections that are embodied in DACA so they can be enacted into law.”
“The President’s decision to end the DACA program was wrong, and puts 800,000 productive members of this country at risk. We will not stand by while 22,000 DACA recipients in New Jersey, who were brought here at a young age by their families, have their status revoked,” said Senator Vitale. “Congress must take action to protect our neighbors and the many well-meaning, innocent children, who came here through no fault or decision of their own, so that they can continue to learn, work, and thrive in the only home they have ever known.”
The DACA program was established in 2012 by President Barack Obama through executive action. Under the program, undocumented immigrants who were between the ages of 16 and 30 in 2012, who entered the United States before their 16th birthday, and who met certain other requirements were provided with temporary relief from deportation. DACA also provided these young people with a social security number and a work permit. Although the program did not provide legal immigration status, the benefits provided by DACA allowed those under its protection to secure a driver’s license, obtain employment, and earn the funds necessary to attend college.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on Sept. 5 but gave those whose two-year work permits would expire before March 5 the chance to renew them one last time. The deadline for filing renewal applications is today.
Since Sept. 5, about 54,000 more DACA recipients have applied for renewals, aided by millions of dollars in donations to help pay the renewal fees, according to published reports. If DACA is not renewed by March 5, recipients’ work permits will expire at a rate of roughly 30,000 a month, leaving them unable to legally work and putting them at some risk of deportation.
In New Jersey, more than 87% of DACA participants are working and contributing more than $66 million in State and local taxes each year. Ending DACA would cause an immediate 32% reduction in those tax payments. Some studies also suggest that if DACA is eliminated, the State would lose an estimated $1.6 billion each year in State gross domestic product.
“Our moral duty as public servants to protect Dreamers should be clear, but also our own interest is only enhanced by the DACA program continuing,” said Pou. “The Dreamers are vital and valued members of our community and as a legislator I will do everything I can to support them and to keep them here in our communities.”
“Failing to renew DACA will undoubtedly be detrimental economically to our state and country,” said Senator Vitale. “More importantly, this is an issue of human decency and human rights. The forced removal of young people who have done nothing wrong, and have known no other country than the United States, is cruel and contrary to the American values and ideals of compassion, inclusion, and opportunity. Yet despite these facts, the Trump Administration announced last month that it is phasing-out the DACA program over a six-month period. Congress must act to prevent what would be a sad chapter in American history.”