In October 2017, the Trump Administration stopped accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, creating a crisis for nearly one million Americans. By January, lawmakers still had not made a deal. Though there was widespread support for protecting DACA recipients (known as DREAMers), Republicans in both the White House and Congress refused to negotiate. In an attempt to gain leverage, Democrats made a long term solution for DREAMers part of budget negotiations as the deadline for passage grew closer. With every day, the stakes grew higher and a government shutdown became a possibility.
Working with a coalition of human and immigrant rights groups we targeted about 30 representatives and senators. We urged lawmakers to find a solution for the DREAMers through passing the DREAM Act, a previously introduced piece of legislation with broad popular support. Our messaging spoke to the moral issue, explaining that deporting these young people who came here through no fault of their own was wrong and unfair. The response from voters was emotional, expressing strong support for protecting DREAMers and sharing personal stories about the importance of immigrants.
Mid-way through our program, the government shut down, and DACA was front and center in the negotiations. We adjusted our focus and increased the pressure. By the end of the program, we were connecting about 4,500 constituents per day to their legislators’ offices. Lawmakers could not come to a compromise, but the DREAMers were protected through a court order. We’ll continue to fight for this issue and advocate for the DREAMers.