Culpeper Star-Exponent: “Congress has failed”—Spanberger urges action for Dreamers before year-end


U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, is urging Senate leadership to provide permanent protections and a pathway to citizenship for the highest possible number of Dreamers in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as well as for Temporary Protected Status beneficiaries.

“For more than two decades, Congress has failed to reform our country’s immigration system and made our country unable to take full advantage of the enormous benefits Dreamers and their families bring to our communities, the economy, and the country at large,” she said.

Millions of young people who know no other country and their families have had to rely on temporary programs while they wait on Congress to finally pass a permanent solution, Spanberger said.

Created in 2012, DACA has provided protection from deportation and employment authorization to more than 825,000 young people—including more than 8,600 Virginians, according to a release from Spanberger’s office.

On average, these Dreamers came to the U.S. with their families at the age of 6-years-old, according to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Spanberger advocated for permanent legal status and a path to citizenship for Dreamers, young people protected by DACA, and those currently in the U.S. with a TPS designation. She underscored ways that these populations of immigrants contribute to communities in Virginia and across the country, as well as the U.S. economy overall.

Lenka Mendoza, founder of the Dreamer Mothers in Action, said two of her children are young aspiring Americans who are DACA beneficiaries.

“This status gave them the opportunity to work and contribute to the economy of the Commonwealth and this country,” said the board member of Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

“However, as the past administration demonstrated, it is not a permanent solution, my family lives under the uncertainty that they could lose their status at any time. We need a permanent solution that will allow our children to reach their full potential in this country that for many is the only home that they have ever known.”

Like Dreamers and DACA recipients, TPS recipients are long-standing members of American communities and key employees of construction contractors, restaurants, and landscaping companies, the congresswoman said. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, TPS workers contribute $4.5 billion to the gross domestic product every year, the letter stated.

But their protections are not permanent, meaning beneficiaries live in a state of limbo.

Spanberger said in the letter she was encouraged by bipartisan interest in finding a path forward to provide Dreamers and TPS recipients with permanent legal status and a path to citizenship. Passing such a bill a priority before the 117th Congress ends should be a priority, she said.

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