CALIFORNIA Attorney General Rob Bonta is co-leading a coalition of 24 attorneys general in a comment letter in support of the federal government’s efforts to preserve and fortify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In the comment letter sent Friday, November 19, the coalition highlights the critical contributions of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers to broader public health efforts, the economy, and communities across the country — and urges the federal government to finalize regulations strengthening DACA and ensuring that states can continue to benefit from the program.
Since 2012, DACA has protected from deportation and extended work authorization to approximately 825,000 individuals who grew up in this country, most of whom have known no home other than the United States. California is home to more DACA recipients than any other state in the country.
“From defending DACA in court to supporting new federal efforts to fortify it, California will continue to lead the way in standing up for our nation’s Dreamers,” said Bonta. “DACA is critical, it is needed, and it’s important we get these updated regulations done. DACA recipients — many of whom are on the front lines of this pandemic — deserve to have peace of mind about their status. Bottom line: For hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across the country, home is here. They continue to show up for our communities and we’re going to keep showing up for them.”
The DACA program has allowed recipients to live, study, and work across the United States free from the fear of being forcibly separated from their families and communities. DACA has enabled hundreds of thousands of grantees to enroll in colleges and universities, complete their education, start businesses that help improve our economy, and give back to our communities as teachers, medical professionals, engineers, and entrepreneurs — all on the books. These contributions became especially evident as the deadly coronavirus pandemic began to sweep through the nation and thousands of DACA recipients stood, and continue to stand, on the frontlines as essential workers. As of April 2020, an estimated 27,000 healthcare workers and support staff depend on DACA for their authorization to work in the United States, including nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physician assistants, home health aides, technicians, and others. DACA has also advanced public health and societal interests in another way: by giving its recipients the opportunity to procure employer-provided health insurance, which has been particularly critical as the states fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the comment letter, the coalition asserts, among other things:
- DACA has public safety and public health benefits for the states;
- The states benefit economically from DACA and DACA recipients;
- DACA and DACA recipients are important to the states’ higher education institutions;
- The states have adopted laws, regulations, and programs in reliance on DACA; and
- Opponents of DACA are unable to substantiate any alleged harms.
In filing the comment letter, Attorney General Bonta is joined by the attorneys general of New Jersey, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.