RENATO FIERRO: As DACA heads to the Supreme Court, Coloradans need support from Congress

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On November 12, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over the fate of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Simultaneously, cases are working their way through the courts on the legality of the Trump Administration’s termination of Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Colorado is home to almost 30,000 people who could face detention and deportation if the Trump Administration prevails.

I am a Coloradan who has been a DACA recipient since 2013. And I am calling on Congress to pass legislation that would protect me and thousands of others.

The Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6), which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year, would protect thousands of Colorado residents from being detained and deported. Both Colorado Senators have publicly affirmed their support for the bill. Senator Bennet has called for the Senate to act, and over August recess, Senator Gardner confirmed that he would vote for H.R. 6 if it came to the floor. Their support is incredibly meaningful to me, and I urge them both to do everything they can to pass this legislation.

Since taking office, President Trump has worked to strip legal status from more than one million people. He has attempted to terminate DACA, a program that protects young people who came to the U.S. as children. And his administration has attempted to end TPS – a provision under which the government grants protection from deportation to people from certain countries afflicted by natural disasters, war, or other dangerous conditions.

The Dream and Promise Act would provide DACA-eligible youth, TPS and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) recipients with permanent residency and a roadmap to citizenship, allowing many eligible immigrants to reach their full potential. It would mean access to get a higher education, better jobs and healthcare, and overall better lives and opportunities.

I rely on DACA because I currently do not have access to any other immigration relief. I cannot just submit some paperwork and start my process of becoming a permanent resident because that process does not exist. Instead, I depend on DACA for temporary relief from deportation and a work permit, but it does not provide a path to long term stability. Every two years a DACA renewal application must be submitted and there’s no telling how long it will take for that application to be processed or if they will deny it.

Passage of this Dream and Promise Act would help me have a better life here in the United States. Right now, I can’t make plans for my future because I honestly don’t know if I’ll still have the protection that DACA gives me.

But if this bill becomes law, I could make plans for more than two years in the future without fear of deportation. Being a permanent resident and becoming a citizen would greatly impact my life and my family in a positive way. For example, I would be able to purchase a vehicle from a car dealership and make payment on it, buy a house, or pursue further education without the fear of suddenly being in deportation proceedings and losing everything I worked for.

I’ve been living here since childhood. All my family and community ties are here, and the reality is I have few memories of my time in Mexico. Like me, DACA, TPS, and DED recipients are essential parts of our communities with long term ties in the U.S.

Our Senators’ support of H.R. 6 is an important step towards passing legislation that will allow me, my family and our communities to live without fear of detention and deportation based on racist immigration policies. This is not just good for immigrants, it is good for all of us who want healthy, stable communities, a strong economy, and a country that values keeping families together rather than tearing them apart.

Here in Colorado, the #Not1More table of the American Friends Service Committee has joined with people across the U.S. save TPS for all countries. And we are working with DACA-eligible young people to protect our communities and push back on the Trump administration’s attacks.

We are grateful that Senator Gardner and Senator Bennet have chosen to stand up for Colorado residents and support this legislation. Now, we hope they will continue to take leadership on this issue, by urging Senator McConnell to bring H.R. 6 to the Senate floor for a vote.

Our communities need bold leaders to defend immigrants and do what is best for Colorado. We are calling on the entire U.S. Senate to truly represent what the people want: to keep families and communities together with passage of the Dream and Promise Act.

Renato Fierro is a long-time member of the Aurora, CO. community. As a DACA recipient he’s been involved with immigrant rights groups over several years. He is a leader in the American Friends Service Committee’s Not1More table, an interpreter and construction worker. He loves dogs and watching comedy shows in English/Spanish and is an avid fan of combat sports like Mixed Martial Arts. With AFSC, Renato has led Know Your Rights trainings for community members and teachers and traveled to DC to lobby for ending funding of ICE and CBP and pushing for just and humane immigration reform, including the Dream and Promise Act.