Bridge to legal status for DACA students

Colorado representative revives bill in U.S. Congress

SGA member Cesiah Guadarrama Trejo addresses presidential finalist Janine Davidson at the student open forum in the Student Success Building on the Auraria Campus on Feb. 13. Photo by Lauren Cordova •

On Jan. 12, US Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO) made efforts to breathe new life into a bill aimed at protecting undocumented young people who were brought into the United States as children from being deported.

MSU Denver is home to at least 400 undocumented students. With a possible pending executive review over the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, some students’ legal status hangs in limbo. Many are left feeling uneasy and uncertain about their future.

Former MSU Denver student Government member and DACA student Cristian Solano-Cordova has been very outspoken over the years regarding the issue as it directly affects him and his entire
family. He said it’s difficult for people like him to not support the bill. Cordova has worked to organize people and call lawmakers to support the bill. He said that if American voters do not express their opinion, no one will listen to the DACA students because they cannot vote.

“We don’t really have an option but to support this. If this is the only option available to us in this current political climate, the lowest hanging fruit, if not the only fruit available, we’re going to go try and take it,” Cordova said.

President Trump’s administration is moving to make good on promises to discontinue programs created through Obama’s executive orders, such as DACA. The bill, called the Bridge Act, was first
proposed back in December by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), with only three co-sponsors at the time. It was reintroduced into the Senate under the new Congress and with more co-sponsors.

No legal status is at any point provided to DACA students through the bill, however, it would permit them to maintain work authorization in what is called a new “provisional protected presence”
that would remain in effect for three years from when the bill was enacted. It would also prevent government agencies such as the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, from using
information gathered through DACA as a means of locating undocumented students for deportation.

Coffman released a statement saying, “Today’s introduction of the Bridge Act is only a first step in the long process of permanently reforming and strengthening our immigration laws. I believe   children brought here at no fault of their own merit the opportunity to live, work and study in the United States. For the balance of immigration reform, I am optimistic that we can fix our broken immigration system by enacting tougher laws, securing our borders and implementing stricter enforcement, all while still keeping families together.”

The Bridge Act may be the best option to maintain work permits and driver’s licenses if DACA is brought to a halt. Many Republicans, including Graham and other supporters of the Bridge Act,  say that DACA far exceeded Obama’s range of power to begin with.

“In my view, the DACA executive order issued by President Obama was unconstitutional and President-elect Trump would be right to repeal it, however, I do not believe we should pull the rug out
and push these young men and women who came out of the shadows and registered with the federal government back into the darkness,” Graham tweeted on Feb. 9.

Author: Jonson Kuhn

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