EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Mexico is ramping up efforts to support “Dreamers,” which include talking to U.S. lawmakers pushing to legalize these young undocumented immigrants, a Mexican diplomat says.
“Right now, the most important thing for us is that Congress could find a solution to give definitive legal certainty to DACA beneficiaries,” Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Martha Barcena said in a Wednesday online immigration forum on YouTube.
DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era executive order giving work permits and suspending deportation for undocumented migrants who were brought into the United States before age 16 and meet other specific requisites.
Some 800,000 migrants applied for DACA since June 2012, though only 649,000 remain actively enrolled in the program, Barcena said. Of those, 521,000 were born in Mexico, she said.
Her government has spent more than $2 million to help Mexican-born “Dreamers” pay the cost of the application and biennial renewals. Consulates around the country have put on thousands of public forums on DACA and attorneys hired by the embassy have filed amicus briefs in U.S. federal court against efforts to end the program.
President Trump in late 2017 moved to terminate DACA. The Supreme Court rebuffed him in June but left the door open for him to try again. In addition, the Department of Homeland Security isn’t taking in new applicants for the program.
“The DACA undocumented youth is, unfortunately, dependant on political will, which gives them uncertainty and makes them vulnerable,” Barcena said, describing the group as a “treasure” to both the United States and Mexico.
She said Mexican officials are in contact with Democratic leaders like U.S. Rep. Richard Durbin, D-Illinois; Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California; and other lawmakers who support bills to provide the “Dreamers” a path to citizenship.
They’re also in touch with members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus, nonprofits that support legalization for the young immigrants and with the “Dreamers” themselves, who have shown the ability to organize through groups like United We Dream and others.
Barcena said her country is supporting the “Dreamers” as part of ongoing efforts to protect the rights of and strengthen ties with Mexicans living in the United States. She said at least 36 million U.S. residents identify themselves as being of Mexican origin, with about 11 million holding Mexican citizenship.
Mexican immigrants in general and the “Dreamers” in particular contribute billions of dollars in taxes annually to the U.S. economy and are integrated into American society, economy and culture. But they also have a strong Mexican heritage, she said.
“I am convinced that the future of Mexico is tied to what happens to our communities in the United States […] and also that the future of the United States depends in great measure on the Mexican community,” the Mexican ambassador said.