October 03, 2017

Sen Harris at DACA Rally: “Let’s Be Compassionate”

Video of the event can be found HERE

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, delivered remarks today at a rally regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Harris urged the Trump Administration to keep America’s promise to them by not sharing their information with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and encouraged DACA recipients to mail their renewal applications today to ensure they are received by October 5th.

Full remarks as delivered are below:

So, we are right now in a very important moment in time where the Department of Homeland Security created this arbitrary timeline and they decided, somehow they concocted this idea that they were going to put in place these deadlines. And so on September 5ththey said by October 5th, 160 [thousand] DACA recipients will have to pull together, in 30 days, documents – they’ll have to figure out how to collect almost $500 to be able to be eligible to renew their status if their status would have expired before March.

I’ve asked these folks in these committee hearings if they think this is fair, if they think this is right. I have asked them how it is that they could put in place this requirement without even directly notifying the intended recipients of this information? Because guess what, guys? You know what I asked them, well how did you inform the DACA recipients? How did you inform them that you’re putting in place this deadline that’s only going to give them 30 days to renew their status?” They had to admit they have not notified these young people directly. You know how they notified them? In press conferences. In press releases. And this is supposed to be a fair system? They justify it by suggesting that they’re standing on the side of right? I say it’s wrong.

When I asked the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, what’s going on with this? This can’t seem right that you also are unwilling to keep the commitment that America made to these young people, which is that if they give us the information about the circumstances of their arrival, if they give us information about their parents, if they give us information about where they are working and their background and they cleared the vet, we told them we would not share that information with ICE. And every single time I have asked these folks in committee hearings in the United States Congress, in the hallowed chambers of the United States Senate, are you willing to keep America’s promise to these young people? Not one of them was willing to keep that promise, not one of them was willing to say “we will stand by the word that we made when we said we would not share that information with ICE.” Not one of them is willing to stand by what is right when it comes to who these young people are.

And let’s be clear, in spite of what they are trying to do in vilifying this population, this is a group of young people who are in our colleges, they are in our graduate schools, they are in medical schools and law schools, they are serving in our military, they are working in Fortune 100 companies and we are unwilling to keep the promise and the word of the United States government.

We stand here at this very moment where they only now have until the end of today, really, those that need renew their status, until the end of today to get their renewal papers in the mail because they have to be in Department of Homeland Security’s offices by Thursday, October 5th. So part of what we’re doing it saying “Hey, everybody, get your stuff in the mail by the end of today,” because we have asked are they going to give any extension, in particular when we know that of the number of young people that we’re talking about, 160,000 DACA recipients live in Florida and Texas. Those two states which just experienced some of the greatest devastation that nature can bring. Are you willing to give an extension to them? And they said no. So we’re looking at a point in time right now, by the end of today, we need to have these young people who want to renew and need to renew their DACA status to get that stuff in the mail.

But you know, the thing that I find most troubling is when I asked the Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security whether or not this was fair or whether or not this is right, you know what she said? This is “compassionate.” She said that what they’re doing is compassionate.

Well let me tell you what’s compassionate. What’s compassionate is keeping your word. What’s compassionate is sticking by a promise you made and following through and leading by example. What’s compassionate is informing the Dreamers directly – DACA recipients directly – of the change in rules that you just created. That’s compassionate. Instead of expecting that in the midst of them being in school and serving in our military and working every day, and they’re going to be sitting at home watching the television and figuring out that on some press release, you changed the rules on them. Inform them directly, that’s compassionate.

It’s compassionate to say they’ll extend the deadline for the 160,000 DACA recipients who are in Florida and Texas, that’s compassionate. It’s compassionate to pass a clean Dream Act. That’s compassion. And it is compassionate to say that ultimately we will pass comprehensive immigration reform and allow the 11 million plus people that are living in our country, allow them a path toward citizenship. Because right now, they are in a state of limbo. And this administration is creating policy that gives them no options. This is a policy and a perspective that is forcing people to live in the shadows. That is un-American. So let’s be compassionate.