An arbitrary deadline has come and gone

Six months ago, President Trump set an arbitrary date for the federal government to end protections for nearly 800,000 “Dreamers,” young people brought to the U.S. as children by their parents in search of the American Dream. Yesterday, the president’s deadline came and went, and while the president set an arbitrary deadline, his decision has real impacts for the Dreamers who have built lives in Delaware and across the country.

President Trump’s decision to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year created a crisis for hundreds of thousands of families living in this country. These protections gave Dreamers peace of mind that their lives wouldn’t be upended without warning. Since DACA protections were put in place, Dreamers have come out of the shadows and made incredible contributions to our society. They are students, entrepreneurs, community leaders and dedicated public servants. The Dreamers I know from Delaware and around the country are some of the most impressive young people I have ever met.

Last month, Congress had the opportunity to work together and finally solve this crisis. Weeks of bipartisan negotiations resulted in a compromise bill that would protect Dreamers, while also increasing funding for border security by $25 billion. Despite the president’s rhetoric about wanting to work together to help the Dreamers and improve border security, he worked openly to derail negotiations and convince Senate Republicans to vote against the bill. Instead of following the 3 C’s – communication, collaboration and compromise, the president chose to play political games with the lives of these young men and women and keep this crisis going through his deadline.

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down in my Washington, D.C. office with a number of Dreamers from Delaware as they told me what the president’s deadline means for them. Since President Trump announced the end of DACA protections, 21,000 Dreamers have lost their protected status – making them vulnerable to lose work permits and even be deported. As the president’s arbitrary deadline passes, the number of Dreamers that will lose their protected status each day will jump tenfold, from 120 to 1,200 – that’s nearly all of Delaware’s 1,400 Dreamers losing their protections each and every day.

Along with a moral obligation, we have an economic incentive to keep these hard-working men and women in our country. In Delaware, Dreamers contribute $88 million to the economy each year, and across the nation Dreamers help create $460 billion in economic activity. Their contributions to our society are recognized by the CEOs of some of the nation’s most profitable companies – including Facebook, Google, Apple, General Motors, Target, AT&T – and the nearly one hundred CEOs who have written to Congress calling on us to protect Dreamers. Deporting these hard working individuals at a time when we have nearly 6 million unfilled jobs across our country is a self-inflicted economic wound we simply don’t need.

President Trump has made it clear he feels little urgency to act. Instead, he’s set on using Dreamers as a political tool to sow confusion and discord between everyone who cares about this issue. But those of us who care about the future of these Dreamers can’t be distracted by partisan politics and we can’t let up. We have an obligation to do everything in our power to care for the young people in our society, and that includes our Dreamers.