Biden Has Promised To Protect ‘Dreamers,’ But DACA Court Challenges Loom

President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to immediately reinstate the federal program that protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States when they were children, a group known as “dreamers.”

His opponents already are trying to stop him.

Biden was vice president when President Barack Obama (D) created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, allowing those who passed a background check, pursued their studies and paid fees to obtain work permits and stay in the United States. More than 640,000 immigrants are enrolled in the program.

President Trump has called the program an “illegal amnesty” and has tried to end it, largely because Obama enacted it without congressional approval. Courts blocked Trump from stifling DACA, but the legal battles surrounding the program are far from over.

Biden called Trump’s attempt to wipe out DACA “cruel and counterproductive,” and says he also will push for citizenship for dreamers and their families — which is what immigrants say they want.

“Dreamers are Americans,” Biden tweeted in June, amid the presidential campaign. “But Trump’s ripped away the hard-won protections of DACA recipients, throwing their lives into upheaval. It’s unacceptable, and on day one of my presidency I will protect them from deportation and send a bill to Congress.”

Although DACA recipients arrived as children, most are now in their 20s, with jobs as doctors, lawyers and software engineers, and many are seeking permanent legal status for themselves and their families.

“Let us be clear, protecting DACA is the floor, not the ceiling, for what Biden must do,” Greisa Martinez Rosas, a DACA recipient from Mexico and executive director for United We Dream, an advocacy group, said at a recent news conference.

But pushing a citizenship bill through what could be a Republican-held Senate will be challenging, and Biden’s opponents are using the federal courts to try to stop him from restoring DACA.

By Maria Sacchetti for THE WASHINGTON POST
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