How You Can Help Defend DACA & Prevent 800,000 People From Being Deported

by Chris Tognotti
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This month marks the fifth anniversary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA. The temporary solution that the Obama administration cooked up for young undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children, the program has helped hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers" avoid deportation and work towards American citizenship. And yet, all of that is now under threat, thanks to a GOP-controlled Congress and a Republican president that are broadly hostile towards undocumented immigrants. So, what is the best way to defend DACA?

It's probably going to take political advocacy and outcry on all fronts, in much the same mold as what just transpired in defense of the Affordable Care Act ― overwhelming public pressure, calling, protesting, and haranguing members of Congress, volunteering, you name it.

Even so, there are huge challenges on the horizon. The reality is that DACA isn't a law passed by Congress, but rather an executive order, so a repeal vote isn't necessary to start tearing things down. The administration can (and already has) start taking actions to weaken and strip the program, which reportedly has benefited more than 800,000 undocumented immigrants.

In recent weeks, the White House has seemed a lot less interested in making nice with ideologically opposed groups right now than even congressional Republicans do. But there are still some strategies to employ to try to protect such a crucial program for thousands of immigrants, and here are some to consider.

Contact Republican Senators And Representatives

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This is the simplest, time-tested strategy for making your voice heard on a given political issue ― let your senator and/or representative know that you care about DACA, and that you want protections put in place for the Dreamers regardless of what action the White House decides to take.

However ineffectual it might feel, as just one person placing a few calls, when enough people add their voices together, it can really have an impact. Indeed, the overwhelming public pressure placed on lawmakers during the health care repeal fight definitely left a mark. And remember: you can call state-level and district offices too, not just national ones. All the information you'll need can be found through the House of Representatives phone directory, and the Senate phone directory.

Flood The White House With Phone Calls

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Calling the White House itself is another good means to send a message for the administration to keep its hands off of DACA. However, given Trump's recent emphasis on catering to his base and his base alone, floods of calls from Democrats likely won't have as much impact as ones from Republicans in traditionally conservative states.

So if you know anyone like that ― if you have family members in states that voted for Trump who're nonetheless sympathetic to the undocumented, for example ― this is a great time to get in touch and ask them to help you make a difference.

Lobby Mayors, Governors, And Legislators

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It's worth remembering that national politicians aren't the only ones who can help apply pressure. To date, some of the most rigid and solid resistance to Trump's agenda has come from state-level officials, whether mayors, governors, or secretaries of state.

Simply put, if you're making the rounds calling up everyone you can to try to draw attention to this, don't forget about the officials that represent you at the state level, either. Once again, especially if you live in a Republican-controlled state with a moderate streak ― Ohio under Governor John Kasich, for example.

Organize Or Join A Protest

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The early months of the Trump administration have seen a surge in protests and demonstrations, and this is as good a cause to join a march for as any. And there's no limit to the extent of your involvement ― you can join a protest that's already been scheduled, or try to organize one in your local community. As always, Facebook is a valuable resource to help create and publicize these sorts of event, or to find one to join.

In short, it's important to remember that however bleak the political moment may seem, there's tangible value in still showing up and putting in the work for advocacy and activism. This time six months ago, after all, it would've sounded absurd to say that the Republicans would fail time and time again to come to a definitive consensus on a health care law. But the tireless work of activists helped make it so, and however unlikely it might seem, it can happen again.