As law students, we have spent long hours studying the breadth of power granted to our government by the Constitution. As progressives, we believe that power ought to be harnessed to advance the dignity of all people. As Americans, we were outraged when the Trump Administration instead announced that it would use this power to destroy the lives of our classmates, our neighbors, and our friends. It is yet another step in this government’s swift descent into cruelty, divisiveness, and nativism.
In 2012, faced with a paralyzed Congress, then-President Obama took action to ensure that nearly a million young people — most of whom have only ever called America home — can work towards a more secure future, just like their peers who were born within America’s borders.
But we recognize (just as President Obama recognized) that even the most compassionate uses of executive power can be undone far too easily by a hostile President in the future. Therefore, it is less important for us to litigate the constitutionality of DACA than it is for us to permanently enshrine its promise of stability and safety for the “DREAMers.”
That is why we are urging Congress to reject President Trump’s draconian wishlist of immigration policy proposals, and instead pass the DREAM Act. The immediate passage of this bill, which garnered bipartisan support only a few years ago, would provide a pathway to permanent status for all the young people whose futures have been dashed by the cynical callousness of the Trump Administration. Congress should also immediately begin work on a more comprehensive immigration reform bill. There is no doubt that Congress has the capacity to grant permanent status to any class of immigrants; they have loosened and tightened immigration laws throughout the decades depending on the prevailing politics of the moment.
The essential instability of executive power in the realm of immigration makes it absolutely critical that Congress takes this moment to act. Congress has consistently used its constitutional powers to grant or deny citizenship to whole classes of individuals, as well as to modify our nation’s willingness to take in new immigrants. At a time when the Executive Branch seeks to embolden our country’s darker, more xenophobic impulses, Congress has the chance to expand our national and political communities.
We’ve grown up imagining an America that is safe, generous, and welcoming to all. We all know that our Constitution gives Congress the power to act in accord with that vision in passing the DREAM Act today. More fundamentally, we know that morality and human decency demands their action. Studying law has shown us that our lawmakers always struggle to strike a balance between liberty and security. Many times, that is a difficult task. This is not one of those times. Congress must act.