President Trump has advised the U.S. Attorney General to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – also known as the “Dreamer” program – which is scheduled to be phased out over the course of the next six months.
What is DACA, and why is it so important?
DACA protects an estimated 800,000 young people, including over 75,000 LGBTQ people, from deportation and authorizes them to work in the U.S. Since 2012, Dreamers have seen an average increase in hourly wages of over 40% and over 90% were able to obtain a driver’s license or state ID allowing them to openly and proudly achieve their American dream.
Our Board Member Sara Ramirez had this to say:
“Rescinding DACA is a cruel act that puts the lives of 800,000 Dreamers in danger and casts their futures into great uncertainty. Everyday, Dreamers play an invaluable and crucial role in creating a stronger, more diverse, and greater America. They deserve our respect as vital members of our society, which is why I urge Congress to take action. As an immigrant, born in Mexico but raised in the US from the age of 7, I stand with Dreamers and want them to know that they are not alone. You matter. We love you.”
What does this mean for LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness?
Rescinding DACA threatens to displace 800,000 young people. They could lose their homes, their livelihoods, and their families. For the 11% of DACA recipients who identify as LGBTQ, this is particularly frightening – as it puts them at risk of further discrimination and violence.
Without the assistance of DACA, Marco Antonio Quiroga – the True Colors Fund’s former Director of Public Policy – would have never had the opportunity to join the organization and advocate on behalf of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Marco says:
“I arrived in the U.S. from Peru when I was two years old and my family landed in Orlando, Florida. Growing up undocumented meant I had to live in daily fear for my own safety and that of my family. I was separated from family members through deportation and struggled through poverty and unstable housing and homelessness because of the dysfunctional immigration laws keeping individuals like myself unable to adjust my immigration status. I was a beneficiary of DACA, which helped lift me from the shadows of fear and vulnerability that I was told I belonged in and empowered me to advocate for my community while sustaining myself and my family.
This door of opportunity that was won by my immigrant community in 2012 allowed me to go from living as a queer youth of color experiencing homelessness to grow into a national movement leader for LGBTQ equity and racial justice causes – including the former Policy Director at True Colors Fund and currently Director of the Contigo Fund, which emerged to thoughtfully support the recovery efforts of those impacted by the Pulse nightclub massacre targeting LGBTQ people of color. Most importantly, these opportunities allowed me to grow strong in my self-worth, in my dreams and vision of a liberated society, and in my ability to lead and create impact. Our young and queer communities of color are faced with daily violence and revoking DACA jeopardizes the lives of 880,000 immigrant youth just like me. This morally corrupt action which seeks to strip our community of their human dignity has triggered a major mental health crisis nationwide for these youth and has endangering their ability to live with dignity and without fear of detention and deportation. Now is the time for all individuals of conscience to resist abusive enforcement measures against immigrant communities, to defend undocumented youth and their families, and demand immediate administrative and congressional action. The path to our shared liberation is a long one, but it is written in our destiny and we must unify to reach it together.”
Our Co-Founder and Board Member Cyndi Lauper had this to say:
“The United States of America must always remain a place for those seeking a better life from around the world; allowing individuals to become a part of the great American tapestry, spur innovation, and promote diversity. The DACA program has been vital to ensuring that we live up to one of our most important ideals. Ending DACA does nothing but further discrimination, stigma, and fear, making it that much harder for Dreamers, especially LGBTQ Dreamers, to live happy and healthy lives. The lives of young people should never be subjected to partisan politics, which is why we urge every Member of Congress to address the rescission of DACA by passing a clean DREAM Act. We must all join together to help fulfill the promise made to Dreamers and create a pathway to the citizenship they deserve.”
Here’s what you can do to join the True Colors Fund in our advocacy:
- Contact your U.S. House Representative and U.S. Senator and urge them to address this action by passing a clean DREAM Act. CLICK HERE to locate your state Congressional representatives.