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Chairman Nadler Opening Statement for Hearing on Protecting Dreamers and TPS Recipients

Mar 6, 2019

Washington, D.C. –Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) described the need to protect Dreamers and TPS recipients at a hearing on the subject.  His remarks, as prepared, are below: 

"Today’s hearing examines the critically important issue of delivering permanent protections, including a path to citizenship, for Dreamers and recipients of Temporary Protected Status, known as TPS, or a similar authority known as Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED.

"This hearing takes on a greater urgency in light of the Trump Administration’s decisions to dismantle current protections for Dreamers and recipients of TPS and DED—actions that have thrown hundreds of thousands of families into turmoil, fear, and uncertainty.

"Dreamers are young undocumented people who were brought to this country as children, and who have lived here for most of their lives.  They are our neighbors, they are our children’s classmates, and they serve in our military with distinction.

"Many Dreamers do not even know they are undocumented until they are in their teens and are approaching adulthood.  They discover that they are unable to work legally; to travel abroad; to obtain driver’s licenses in most states; to obtain federal financial assistance for post-secondary education; or even, in most states, to attend college or university at the in-state tuition rates that their U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident classmates, and their U.S. citizen siblings, pay.  And suddenly, the bright future they imagined for themselves seems out of reach.

"To help encourage these young people to come out of the shadows, and to enable them to contribute more fully to their communities, in June of 2012, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, or DACA.  DACA is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion, providing temporary relief from deportation, and work authorization, to Dreamers who meet certain criteria.  DACA has enabled almost 800,000 eligible young adults to work lawfully, to attend school, and to plan their lives without the constant threat of deportation.

"In September 2017, however, the Trump Administration announced the end of DACA, threatening to remove these young people from the only country many of them have ever known.  That is why it is more important than ever that Congress enact permanent protections for this vulnerable population.

"For nearly two decades, various proposals have been introduced to address this issue, and the Dream Act almost passed both chambers in 2010.  But despite bipartisan support in Congress, and the support of nearly three-quarters of the American public, legislation has never been enacted.  Today’s hearing is the first step towards ending that injustice.

"Dreamers are an essential part of our communities, and they are critical to building a future America that is strong, united, and economically and socially vibrant. 

"Very much the same can be said for those who have Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.  Our immigration laws authorize the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate countries for TPS in response to armed conflict, natural disaster, or other extraordinary circumstances.

"Persons from TPS countries in the United States at the time the designation is announced can remain here lawfully for the duration of the designation and can receive work authorization.  The President also has the discretion to provide similar relief, known as Deferred Enforced Departure, or DED.

"Several hundred thousand foreign nationals from 10 countries currently have TPS, and nearly 750 Liberian nationals have DED-related work authorization.  Most of these TPS and DED recipients have lived lawfully in the United States for more than 20 years, and they have built lives, families, and businesses in this country.

"Once people lay down such deep roots in this country, it would be cruel—not to mention economically counter-productive—to remove them from their communities, and from the lives and businesses they have built over the course of decades.

"But the Trump Administration has decided to do just that.  It has announced the termination of TPS for six countries, representing 98 percent of TPS recipients currently in the United States.  Protection  Dem Staff s for Liberian DED holders are also scheduled to be terminated by the end of this month.

"If these vital protections are removed, hundreds of thousands of people—people who are integral parts of our communities—will be torn from our midst and sent to countries where they no longer have much connection, where they may not be able to speak the language of those countries, and where they may face alarming levels of poverty and violence.  If the Trump Administration is permitted to go forward with its plans to cancel TPS and DED status, it could be responsible for an utterly avoidable humanitarian disaster.

"Fortunately, the courts have, once again, stepped in to stop this Administration’s divisive efforts to advance its anti-immigrant agenda.  Courts have issued multiple injunctions against efforts to terminate DACA and several of the canceled TPS designations.  But even if the courts ultimately rule against the Administration, it would only result in partial relief.  This is because those currently with DACA represent less than half of all Dreamers, only four of the six terminated TPS designations are currently being blocked by the courts, and neither DACA nor TPS, by their nature, provide permanent protections.  Thus, preserving the status quo would mean that only a fraction of Dreamers and TPS recipients will benefit, and that benefit will only serve as a temporary reprieve.

"That is why passing legislation that provides permanent protection, and a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and TPS recipients, is a top priority for this Committee, and for the House of Representatives. 

"I am heartened by the fact that at least seven, and possibly all eight, witnesses before us today support the goal of permanently protecting our friends, neighbors, and loved ones who are Dreamers and TPS or DED recipients.  For the sake of our economy, our communities, and our humanity, I hope that we can move forward in a bipartisan way to finally provide the permanent protections these individuals need and deserve."

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116th Congress