What one Dreamer wanted to hear from President Trump

DACA recipient Elias Rosenfeld '20 wants the President and Congress to finally find a way to protect hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children

Elias Rosenfeld '20 with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III in front of the Capitol.

In this piece, Elias Rosenfeld '20 (left) imagines what he'd like to hear the President say to Dreamers in the State of the Union address. U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III will give the response from the Democrats.

Elias Rosenfeld '20 immigrated legally from Venezuela to the U.S. with his mom and little sister when he was six. Then he lost his mom to cancer when he was in the 6th grade. What he didn't know at the time was that her passing meant he and his sister would also lose their legal status in this country.  

Rosenfeld is a participant in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program. Like all DACA recipients, he faces an uncertain future unless Congress and the President can reach a compromise to provide them with permanent legal status. Unlike many DACA recipients who fear going public about their status, Rosenfeld is a member of many advocacy groups, has interned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and has been the subject of national media reports, including this recent story in the Boston Globe as well as in recent interviews and speeches with Warren and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

BrandeisNOW asked Rosenfeld what he would most like to hear the president say in the State of the Union address Tuesday night:

As a Jewish Dreamer and student at Brandeis University, this is what I would urge our President to say in regard to the recent immigration legislation negotiations in Congress that will impact the future of nearly 800,000 young individuals in this nation:

This beautiful nation, from its founding, has had a deep connection to and appreciation for its immigrants. Yet for far too long, our nation's immigration system has been broken, harming and dividing families who are seeking only to contribute to their communities and their nation. This broken system is also harming our economy and ability to attract talent and compete on a global scale.

Our nation is at a moral crossroads. In a couple of weeks, Congress must take firm action to protect the 800,000 so-called Dreamers so their future is no longer uncertain and unclear in the only nation they know as home. For 16 years, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, Congress and the executive branch have failed these individuals because Congress refuses to take permanent action to protect this talented group of young people. They represent the merit we should seek in all immigrants.

Tonight, I implore this Congress to find a compromise and solution immediately, so I may sign legislation, that once and for all protects these children, brought to the United States through no fault of their own. Dreamers are students, service members, teachers, doctors, nurses and business owners. They contribute financially to our nation, risk their lives in the military, and abide by the law. Dreamers are American in every way, except on paper. It is time Congress does its job to protect these constituents.

Our lawmakers must come together and pass a bipartisan compromise that would allow Dreamers to continue contributing and serving their communities in the United States. Congress must remember that any immigration bill it passes will take months to take effect, so it's critical to pass legislation without delay.

More than 15,000 Dreamers have lost their work authorization and deportation protections since September 5, 2016, due to Congressional inaction. Every single day, 122 Dreamers lose their status - and this trend will continue until Congress takes action to affirmatively protect them from deportation. In March, that number will rise to 1,200 Dreamers losing protections every single day. I urge you all to count from 1 to 1,200 in your head to understand the dramatic impact this will have on our workforce and economy, and on American families every single day.

Protecting Dreamers is also a religious issue, particularly for me as the father and grandfather of members of the Jewish community. In the Torah - the first five books of the Hebrew Bible - the Jewish people are called 36 times to welcome the stranger. In Leviticus 19:34, God commands the Israelites: "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love them as yourself." We are called to welcome the stranger. But with DACA participants, our task is easier. They are not strangers. Dreamers are already firmly established within the American community.

There is strong bipartisan support in Congress to allow Dreamers to stay here, and 80 percent of Americans would like to see this issue resolved. I urge all members of Congress to follow their constituents and pass a legislative solution for Dreamers rooted in compromise, the fundamental basis of our nation and the U.S constitution.

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