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DREAMers Take Control Of Senate Office Building (VIDEO)

Pro-immigrant protesters took control of the atrium at the Hart Senate Office Building today.

Thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (“DACA”) program recipients–commonly referred to as DREAMers–piled into the third U.S. Senate office building outfitted with banners and popular protest chants, hymns and anthems.

According to one police officer there, the protesters were so loud that sounded, “like a football game.”

They were there to press Congress on its perceived sluggishness in passing the DREAM Act–which would codify many aspects of the controversial DACA program into law.

DACA was enacted by then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano to three other agency heads on June 15, 2012. DACA was not the result of an executive order. Rather, it was a re-shuffling of immigration enforcement priorities classified as a memorandum outlining the exercise of DHS’ prosecutorial discretion.

Essentially, DACA was nothing more than an understanding between the federal government and a small class of undocumented immigrants (who met certain qualifications) that they were at the bottom of the list of people to be deported by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

That understanding between the federal government and young immigrants came with a two-year promise in the form of a permit which allowed DREAMers to more easily access certain benefits–like work authorization and drivers licenses-–but did not actually confer any “substantive right, immigration status or pathway to citizenship.”

All told, DACA has prevented the deportation of roughly 790,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children.

This program was never challenged in the courts, but ten Republican-controlled states promised to issue such a legal challenge if President Trump did not make good on his 2016 campaign promise to end DACA. Trump ended the program on September 5, 2017.

While announcing DACA’s demise, however, the president issued a challenge to Congress: Pass the DREAM Act so the young immigrants–who never really had a say in the first place–can stay in the only country they’ve ever known.

The current incarnations of the DREAM Act are contained in House Bill 1084 and Senate Bill 1615.

Neither legislative body has made serious efforts to advance either version of the DREAM Act.

[image via screengrab]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

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