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Senate Reintroduces Bipartisan “Bridge Act” to Protect Immigrant Youth
(January 18, 2017) – Senators Graham (SC) and Durbin (IL), and Representatives Gutiérrez (IL-4) and Coffman (CO-26) reintroduced legislation last week, which would continue protections for beneficiaries of the Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by allowing them to maintain lawful status and continue to live without fear of deportation.
The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act (S.128/H.R. 496) is designed to be a temporary solution for those protected currently under DACA given the program’s uncertain future under the incoming Administration. To date, more than 740,000 young people have obtained DACA. With the Bridge Act, DACA youth would fall under a new 3-year status called “provisional protected status,” allowing them to continue to work and pursue their education. The bill would also allow additional DACA-eligible youth to apply, which is important for the approximately 220,000 children under the age of 15 who have been waiting to qualify for the program.
“The DACA program’s tremendous success is proof that our country is better off when we provide our young people with the opportunity to fulfill their full potential,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the First Focus Campaign for Children. “DACA beneficiaries are supporting their families and giving back to their communities, and we as a country are better for it. To take away their protected status and put them at risk of deportation would be cruel and un-American. We commend Senator Graham and Senator Durbin for their leadership in introducing this legislation, and we urge Congress to quickly pass the bill and work towards a more permanent solution for these youth and their families.
Bipartisan support for the BRIDGE Act include Senators Murkowski (R-AK), Feinstein (D-CA), Flake (R-AZ), Schumer (D-NY), and Harris (D-CA). Representatives Curbelo (FL-26), Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Denham (CA-10), Lofgren (CA-19), Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and Chu (CA-27). “Today’s introduction of the Bridge Act is only a first step in the long process of permanently reforming and strengthening our immigration laws,” said Rep. Coffman.
The First Focus Campaign for Children has been a leader in pushing for support of children of immigrants through its Center for Children of Immigrants. In 2016, the Center produced a multi-media campaign called This Is My American Story, which used PSAs to put a face to an issue impacting hundreds of thousands of children in immigrant families.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.