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Advocates hail DACA ruling, but say ‘Dreamers’ need permanent legalization

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Texas Republicans also express support for young immigrants, say they're willing to work with Democrats

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — The Supreme Court on Thursday gave a respite — but not a solution — to thousands of immigrants brought into the U.S. as children, advocates say.

The high court’s 5-4 decision only voids president Trump’s 2017 attempt to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But the ruling doesn’t ban the president from trying again to do away with DACA, so the only solution for around 700,000 program beneficiaries is for Congress to legalize their stay in the United States, the advocates said.

“Today, we celebrate but know that the fight is not over,” said Andrea Flores, deputy director of immigration policy for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The House of Representatives has already passed H.R. 6, the American Dream and Promise Act, and it is incumbent upon the Senate to do the same to permanently protect ‘Dreamers.’ We won’t rest until Dreamers can.”

DACA was Obama’s 2012 stop-gap measure to prevent immigrants brought into the country before their 16th birthday from being exposed to deportation. It gave them renewable two-year permits to go on with their lives in the United States, get a Social Security number and a job. But it doesn’t give them permanent legal status in the United States.

Obama took executive action given the continued failure of efforts in Congress to pass the 2001 Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, known as the DREAM Act. The undocumented minors have been known as “Dreamers’ ever since.

DACA beneficiaries have gone on to college and many are working in health professions, on the front line of the fight against COVID-19, the advocates say.

“(This) is not a final resolution but it is an important reprieve for young people and families with deep roots in our communities,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute in El Paso. “We still need Congress to act, pass the Dream Act, cut funding to ICE and CBP, tear down walls, set free the detained and restore asylum.”

More than 1,500 DACA recipients live in El Paso, advocates say.

Some Republican lawmakers have also expressed support for preventing the deportation for this class of immigrants.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, earlier this week called on his peers to protect the “Dreamers” if the Supreme Court stopped their DACA benefits. And on Thursday, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, echoed the call for Republicans in the House.

“DACA recipients came to the U.S. through no fault of their own and are now building businesses, paying taxes or going to school. The Supreme Court made the right decision to allow them to continue to do this,” Hurd said. “Today’s court decision further reinforces the fact Congress must enact a permanent legislative solution for DACA recipients so they can continue to be a part of communities they have always called home.”

Hurd called on both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, to take “bipartisan and bicameral action on DACA.”

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