President’s Blog: The Urgent Need for Action on Behalf of Dreamers

July 19, 2021

Two years ago, in November 2019, I stood on the steps of the United States Supreme Court alongside our alumna María Perales Sánchez ’18, Princeton’s general counsel Ramona Romero, and Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith ’81.  The Court had just heard arguments on a set of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cases, including one brought jointly by María, Princeton, and Microsoft.  Seven months later, in June 2020, the Court ruled in our favor.

When the Court handed down its decision, I welcomed the ruling, but I also noted that our victory was incomplete.  DACA beneficiaries, as well as the broader population of “Dreamers,” will remain at risk until Congress gives them a clear path to citizenship.

The need for such legislation is now more urgent than ever.  Last week, a federal district court judge ruled DACA unlawful and ordered the government to stop approving new applications to the program.   The Biden administration has already declared its intention to appeal the judge’s decision, but the litigation underscores again the uncertainty and threats that confront Dreamers and their families.

That is why I this week I am joining other leaders from colleges, universities, and the business sector in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  The letter calls for immediate action to:

pass the bipartisan Dream Act of 2021, and end this constant rollercoaster of lawsuits and uncertainty. If Congress cannot move forward swiftly in a bipartisan manner, then we call on the Senate and Congress to pursue a roadmap to citizenship through all available mechanisms — including budget reconciliation. Inaction is unacceptable in 2021.”

This one should be easy.  Polling conducted by the Pew Research Center found that about 75% of Americans want to provide Dreamers with permanent legal status.  That support should not be surprising:  Dreamers came to America as children, many now have children who were born in this country and are American citizens, and they contribute tremendously to our communities and our economy.  The United States is their home.

I am proud that legal protection for Dreamers enjoys bipartisan support from the New Jersey congressional delegation.  Let’s hope that their colleagues in Washington can muster the will to do the right thing this time around and give the Dreamers the path to citizenship that they need and deserve.