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Remembering the humanity at the heart of DACA

Since the decision last fall to end protections for the recipients of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – the Dreamers – the lives of the more than 800,000 young people affected by the program have been thrown into uncertainty and fear. The Dreamers are young people who were brought to this country as children. The United States is their home; they have grown up here, and it is short-sighted to exclude these hard-working contributors from our society.

Despite overwhelming popular support for DACA and protecting the Dreamers from exile, they remain at risk as Congress debates possible legislative solutions. A U.S. district court has ruled that DACA must continue to be maintained for now, but we urgently need a permanent resolution that is fair to the Dreamers and honors our nation’s deep roots as a welcoming and inclusive nation.

I encourage our congressional delegation to remember that underneath the politics and horse-trading that go into passing legislation, there are real human beings’ lives at stake. And not only the 800,000 Dreamers’ futures hang in the balance, but so do the futures of their families and friends, neighbors and employers. In considering this human cost of policy making, let us try to remember that all of our lives intersect in countless ways, and that those connections are the manifestations of the values we cherish most — love, kindness and a belief in our common humanity.

Next week our nation celebrates Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through a day of service and remembrance. There is no better occasion to honor his legacy than by passing legislation that will protect the DACA Dreamers. It’s a chance for our nation to remind ourselves about who we really are.