A group of 40 celebrities is urging Democratic leaders to take advantage of an important opportunity to protect the thousands of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation.
America Ferrera, Jennifer Lawrence, Rosario Dawson, Mark Ruffalo and 36 other high-profile celebrities on Wednesday released the letter they jointly addressed to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in which they asked the Democrats to pass the Dream Act before the holidays.
Passing the bill would mean protecting thousands of undocumented immigrants ― often referred to as Dreamers ― who were eligible for deportation relief under the Obama-era program Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA). President Donald Trump ended the program in September, leaving nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation and giving Congress six months to find a legislative solution to protect Dreamers.
“Under your leadership, Democrats in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have a moral imperative to make sure that the Dream Act (H.R. 3440/ S.1615) is included in the must pass spending bills that are before Congress before the holidays,” the celebrities noted in the letter. which was also signed by a number of immigrant organizations. “We value your promise to hold all the members of your caucus to vote on a clean Dream Act without harmful amendments, like a costly border wall, border militarization such as an increase in Border Patrol agents, additional immigration detention funding or increases in ICE agents, or other measures that undermine the spirit of this bill.”
Congress has until Friday to pass a spending bill ― which activists and some Democrats say should include Dreamer protections ― to avoid a government shutdown. If Democrats and Congress do not act in favor of Dreamers, nearly 1,000 DACA recipients per day would lose their work permits and be at risk of deportation starting March 6.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), one of several Democratic senators who have publicly said they would oppose a spending bill that didn’t include Dreamer protections, told HuffPost it was imperative that Congress does something before the holiday break.
“Each day matters,” Harris said on Tuesday. “And for that reason, we must get this done, and we must get it done before the end of this year ― no January, no February, no March. Now.”
Wednesday’s letter echoed Harris and the other Democrats pushing for Congress to act immediately to help Dreamers:
We respectfully urge you to listen to members of senior party leadership, who have insisted that there must be no final spending bill that does not ensure that the Dreamers have a secure future here in the United States. This is a moral issue that demands action, without further delay. Dreamers and DACA recipients are an integral part of our country, so we are urging you to make sure that you use your power to get this done before leaving to spend the holidays with your own families.
A September HuffPost/YouGov poll found that a majority of Americans (55 percent) believe that Trump was wrong to end DACA.
The survey found that 51 percent believe that Congress should step in to offer a legislative solution for young undocumented immigrants to be allowed to stay in the U.S.