SAALT’s Sridaran calls for legislative fix for DACA

Lakshmi Sridaran
Ritu Jha-

In response to reacting to the Nov. 12 U.S. Supreme Court hearing on DACA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), Lakshmi Sridaran, director of National Policy and Advocacy at South Asian Americans Together (SAALT) says she believes legislation action necessary to protect DACA recipients.

The decision of the nine members of the highest court in the land is expected by June at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign.

“SCOTUS finally heard oral arguments on DACA. While we are disappointed that the DACA program was unnecessarily terminated by President Trump in 2017 and has been contested at every turn by this administration, we hope that the Supreme Court will uphold its legitimacy,” Sridaran told indica. “But, we must remember that instituting DACA through legislation is the strongest solution to protect the over 800,000 people with DACA status, including over 4,500 South Asians.”

According to AP, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority last week seemed ready to allow the Trump administration to abolish protections that permit 660,000 immigrants to work in the U.S. free from the threat of deportation. But the AP also reported that the nine  justices looked divided on a decision that would either end DACA or another solution.

Sridaran said DREAMers – those foreign-born individuals living in the U.S. without immigration documents — have been successful in winning over 75 percent of the American public and members of Congress, who support them remaining in the country with a path to citizenship. They have accomplished this because they are unwilling to sacrifice any other group of immigrants to win, all while facing the threat of deportation themselves every day. They joined forces with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients – undocumented immigrants in the U.S. certain countries experiencing problems that make it difficult or unsafe for the recipients to be deported to their home countries — to demand that Congress pass legislation that combines protections for both DACA and TPS recipients, Sridaran said.

This is why the historic House passage of the DREAM-PROMISE Act earlier this year was such a critical step forward, Sridaran said, adding that she hopes the Senate will follow suit and pass the legislation with no anti-immigrant amendments. This legislation would not only enshrines the protections of DACA but also provides a clear path to citizenship for DACA recipients and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, Sridaran said.

The AP reported that Trump said on Twitter that DACA recipients shouldn’t despair if the justices side with him, pledging that “a deal will be made with the Dems for them to stay!” But Trump’s past promises to work with Democrats on a legislative solution for
these immigrants have led nowhere, Sridharan observed.

The president also said in his tweet that many program participants, brought to the U.S. as children and now here illegally, are “far from ‘angels,’” adding  that “some are very tough, hardened criminals.” The DACA program bars anyone with a felony conviction from participating, and serious misdemeanors may also bar eligibility.