Urge Homeland Security to Protect DREAMer’s Program
TRENTON – Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senate President Steve Sweeney today applauded United States District Judge John Bates’ decision giving the Department of Homeland Security 90 days to provide the legal rationale behind the Administration’s directive to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This is the third federal judge decision to rebuke the Administration’s attempt to end DACA but the first to order DHS to accept new applications. It is also the first time a judge appointed by a Republican president issued such a ruling, which underscores the bipartisan consensus on the legality of the DACA program, Senator Ruiz and Senator Sweeney emphasized. The lawsuit was brought, in part, by Princeton University, highlighting the importance of this issue to the nation’s higher education system and economic security.
“DREAMers are in this situation through no fault of their own and they deserve better than to live in uncertainty as a result of political gamesmanship in Washington,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “It’s important to remember that DACA is not a permanent remedy; it’s a short-term solution to making sure these young people are able to continue living, studying and working here, in the only country they’ve ever known as home. Congress must work on comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken system.”
Senator Ruiz is a member of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, which represents the voices of more than 400 Hispanic state legislators from across the country, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. She joins Senate President Steven M. Sweeney in celebrating the court decision and urging the Administration not to terminate the program until a permanent solution is enacted by Congress and signed into law.
“It’s a great relief to know that DACA recipients can once again start applying to renew their permits,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester). “Given the stakes of this decision and its impact on more than 20,000 young New Jerseyans – individuals who are indeed Americans in every way but a piece of paper – we urge the Administration not to terminate the DACA program until Congress passes the DREAM Act and ends the uncertainty facing DREAMers once and for all.”
Close to seven percent of all DACA recipients live in the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area. With an average age of 24, more than 90 percent have jobs and have contributed billions of dollars in taxes to Social Security and Medicaid, even though they are not currently entitled to benefits from either program.
The Center for American Progress approximates that the loss of New Jersey’s estimated 18,027 DACA workers would reduce the state’s gross domestic product by $1,493,210,869 annually. “That’s an economic loss,” said Senator Sweeney. “But the real cost would be in losing DREAMers’ passion to contribute to our state’s success, and their spirit of determination.”
Legislation sponsored by Senator Ruiz, Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham and Senator Nellie Pou to allow DREAMers to qualify for state financial aid programs to help cover the cost of attending an eligible higher education institution currently awaits Governor Phil Murphy’s signature into law. A companion piece of legislation by the same sponsors would provide equal access to college for New Jersey students who are citizens, but whose parents are undocumented. The bill (S-700) which sets criteria to determine residency, required to be eligible for state student loans, grants or scholarships, passed the Senate this month and advanced to the Assembly for consideration.