Statement: Bipartisan BRIDGE Act Protects DACA Youth Facing an Uncertain Future
Washington, D.C.— Over the last 24 hours, the bipartisan BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy) Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and in the U.S. House by Representatives Mike Coffman (R-IL) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL). The BRIDGE Act offers temporary relief from deportation, along with work authorization, to the young people currently benefitting from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was put in place under executive action by the Obama Administration in 2012 to provide a short-term solution for undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children. The BRIDGE Act is particularly important now as hundreds of thousands of young immigrants face an uncertain future under the incoming administration.
“CLASP is pleased to support this important legislation, which recognizes the tremendous contributions to our country’s economic future made by youth and young adults whose lives have been stabilized under DACA. The legislation also addresses the critical need to protect these young people from once again being at risk of deportation and separation from their families. DACA has allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to pursue a higher education, join the workforce, and achieve economic stability for themselves and their families. We as a country are stronger when all young people are able to achieve their full potential, and we thank Senators Durbin and Graham and Representatives Coffman and Gutierrez for their leadership on this,” said Olivia Golden, executive director of CLASP.
The BRIDGE Act would provide a temporary three-year “provisional protected presence” for the more than 750,000 young people who have been safeguarded by DACA since the program’s implementation. The bill would also allow others who qualify for DACA to apply for protected status, including those who now meet the program’s education and age requirements. While the bill only provides a short-term solution, it would allow young people currently protected under DACA to continue to live and work legally in the country until a more permanent solution can be reached.
Several studies prove that DACA has enabled these youth and young adults to secure better-paid employment and make important contributions to the U.S. economy, such as through purchasing a first car or home. Nearly half of all DACA youth and young adults are in school, and more than 85 percent are working. Before DACA, undocumented youth, who often live in low-income families, faced significant challenges in accessing postsecondary education or employment despite their enormous potential and commitment to their communities and to the nation.
“CLASP urges all youth and anti-poverty advocates, as well as employers, the postsecondary education community, and others who know the value these young people add to our economy and society, to join us in standing with DACA youth and their families during this challenging time. We will be working with partners in the coming months to secure quick passage of this legislation as well as continue to push for a more long-term solution so all children, including those in immigrant families, have access to the opportunity every child deserves,” added Golden.
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CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for low-income people. With nearly 50 years of trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and a commitment to practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all, CLASP lifts up the voices of poor and low-income children, families, and individuals, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. The organization’s solutions directly address the barriers that individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status, in addition to low income. For more information, visit www.clasp.org and follow @CLASP_DC.