9 years of DACA, Dreamers still wait for path to citizenship

Washington DC

Democrats are pushing for permanent protections for people brought illegally to the U.S. as children

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers are still living in limbo nine years after the creation of DACA.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was intended to serve as a temporary protection for young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children. Tuesday marks the ninth anniversary of the policy’s creation.

Dreamers like emergency room Dr. Manuel Bernal Mejia are still waiting for a permanent path to citizenship.

“As a kid, I was involved in way too many extracurriculars from karate to swim team, all while living in blissful ignorance of the gravity of what it meant to be an undocumented immigrant,” Bernal Mejia said.

Bernal Mejia came to the U.S. at the age of two. He was told college would be impossible but he became an emergency room doctor thanks to DACA.

“I provide critical care to save American lives on the frontlines of the pandemic, even as my own future in this country remains uncertain,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of other DACA recipients who arrived illegally in the U.S. as children also live in fear that DACA could be eliminated, forcing them to return to countries they haven’t seen in years.

A pending federal ruling over a Texas case could strike down the program entirely.

Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) want to see permanent protections for Dreamers.

“DACA was enacted as a stop-gap measure, it was never enough, nor intended to be enough,” Padilla said.

“In America, we do not hold children responsible for the actions of their parents,” Cornyn said.

Still, the 2021 Dream and Promise Act faces tough odds. Cornyn says it goes too far in protecting other types of immigrants.

“Radical policies that reward illegal immigration will not past the Senate,” he said.

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