40 Celebrities Sign Letter Urging Congress To Protect 'Dreamers'

"We value your promise to hold all the members of your caucus to vote on a clean Dream Act without harmful amendments."

With about 24 hours to go before Congress must pass a spending bill, a group of 40 celebrities signed a letter urging Democratic leadership to use the opportunity to safeguard "Dreamers" — some 800,000 young people who came to this country as children and were protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program before the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era initiative back in September.

Though DACA won't formally end until March 6, 2018, if Congress fails to pass legislation to protect DACA recipients prior to that date, many of them will likely be deported to the countries they were born in, despite living, working, and studying in the United States for much of their lives. 

Since Congress needs Democratic votes to pass the aforementioned spending bill, dozens of politicians, immigrant organizations, and signatories of the letter have said the party should use that power to demand a clean Dream Act — legislation that would protect Dreamers without making other concessions such as funding for the controversial border wall or expanding immigrant detention.

Shutterstock /  Rena Schild
Shutterstock /  Rena Schild

The letter, which was signed by heavyweights such as Jennifer Lawrence, Rosario Dawson, and Mark Ruffalo is jointly addressed to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). According to HuffPost, it states, in part, "Under your leadership, Democrats in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have a moral imperative to make sure that the Dream Act (H.R. 3440/ S.1615) is included in the must pass spending bills that are before Congress before the holidays." 

The missive, which was also signed by a number of immigrant organizations, goes on to state, "We value your promise to hold all the members of your caucus to vote on a clean Dream Act without harmful amendments, like a costly border wall, border militarization such as an increase in Border Patrol agents, additional immigration detention funding or increases in ICE agents, or other measures that undermine the spirit of this bill."

Despite a great deal of opposition from Republicans, a Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in September found 86 percent of respondents were in favor of allowing DACA recipients who are eligible for renewable two-year work permits to stay in the country. 69 percent of Americans also "strongly" support the DACA program, according to the poll.

In recent weeks and months there have been several protests urging Congress to pass a clean Dream Act, and the protests have garnered support from key politicians on both sides of the aisle including Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio. In fact, according to ABC News, Kasich was one of 11 governors who signed a letter of his own earlier today asking Congress to save DACA.

For her part, Harris has also been a vocal DACA advocate. "Every single day that we don't act, 122 more DACA recipients lose their status," she wrote on Instagram earlier today alongside a clip of an impassioned speech. "Passing the Dream Act now is a matter of morality. This is a matter of what is the right thing to do, among leaders who say that they have power."

Though Schumer and Pelosi have remained mum regarding exactly what they are going to do about the spending bill, a spokesperson for Pelosi told The Intercept that Republicans will need to find votes on their own if a Dream Act is not included as part of the spending measure.

Cover image via Shutterstock / Tinseltown.

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