Counties representing 37 million Americans demand Dreamers fix

Monday, January 22, 2018

Rod Dembowski
Representing jurisdictions with a combined population of 37.6 million Americans, 69 county officials from 37 jurisdictions across the U.S. are submitting a letter calling on national leaders to swiftly and comprehensively address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. 

This comes in advance of Friday’s expiration of the federal government’s continuing resolution, which many hoped might provide an opportunity to find a bipartisan compromise on DACA.

“Dreamers are Americans in every aspect but on paper. Not reaching a solution for them to stay is cruel, contrary to the values we have sworn to uphold and protect, and harms communities nationwide,” said Rod Dembowski, vice chair of the King County Council (pop. 2.1 million), whose office is leading the effort
“We are proud to act with what Dr. King called ‘the fierce urgency of now’ and submit this letter to Congress at this pivotal moment in this fight for justice.”

Approximately 800,000 young people in the United States benefit from DACA, with close to 19,000 Dreamers living in Washington. From the State of Washington, county officials from King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties joined the urgent call on Congress for a permanent fix for Dreamers.

“In Pierce County we’re proud to be home to a large immigrant and refugee community. The panic and stress this impasse has caused our Dreamers is heartbreaking. Some returned to school after the break unsure if they’ll be able to complete the semester. Others worry about providing for their families,” said Pierce County Councilmember Derek Young.

“The government asked Dreamers to step forward with the promise of a path to legal status and betrayed that faith. In local government we rely on those relationships to encourage cooperation with law enforcement and service providers. Without that trust our community is less safe.”

“We recognize the many contributions to our country, culture, and communities by these young people,” said Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright. “We all benefit from being diverse, inclusive, and welcoming communities, and we urge Congress to work together to find a permanent solution.”

“Dreamers that came as children now build this country - and Cook County - as veterans, first responders, teachers and parents,” said Cook County, IL Commissioner Bridget Gainer. “As a country of immigrants when we bring the Dreamers out of the shadows we honor our past and fight for our future.”

County officials expressed in the letter that they have a particular interest in seeing the legal status of Dreamers resolved in a manner that allows them to stay in the communities they call home, and that it is the role and responsibility of local government leaders to protect the rights of their constituents.

“On behalf of OneAmerica, Washington’s largest immigrant advocacy organization, this example of broad support by local elected leaders from across the nation underscores the urgency felt by so many communities for action by Congress to address the crisis created by the President’s decision to rescind DACA,” said OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz.

“At a time when racial animus is playing such a prominent role in national politics, local leaders and communities are clear that protecting these young Americans who know no other home affirms our values as a compassionate and just nation. The growing chorus of voices is clear: Congress must act now.”


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