PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – An important application process for the children of undocumented immigrants has now expired.
The deadline for these individuals to renew their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA, was Thursday.
Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley were in Portland Friday talking about the fight to renew the law and meeting some of the people who were covered under it who are now in limbo at a roundtable discussion held at the Catholic Charities Clark Family Center.
The Democratic senators used the opportunity to reassure more than two dozen “Dreamers” and other immigration rights advocates that they are both fighting for them, but the pair also wanted to listen to what the Dreamers, many of whom are college students, had to say.
Last month, President Donald Trump announced the DACA program would be eliminated but put in a six-month delay for those in the program who are set to have their statuses expire this coming spring. Those Dreamers had until Thursday to reapply for a two-year renewal.
The president also gave Congress six months to pass a new bill on the issue.
Wyden and Merkley told the DACA recipients Friday they will fight to save the program and protect their benefits.
The senators said Oregon has more than 11,000 DACA recipients who work hard and make the state, and the entire country, a better place.
Daysi Bedolla is a DACA recipient and the student body president of Eastern Oregon University. She told FOX 12 wants lawmakers to fight for the people benefited by this program.
“Fight for us. We have a lot of people fighting next to us and with us, but I think it’s important for them to stand with us,” Bedolla said. “There’s a bunch of us here in Oregon. We’re going to school, working, and a lot of other things.”
There is a great deal of uncertainty now surrounding DACA. If a new bill isn’t passed, hundreds of thousands of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children could be deported.
Merkley explained to FOX 12 Friday that making progress on the bill is now up to the GOP.
“We’re waiting to get the Republican committee chair to put it into committee, so we can hopefully get it passed through committee and onto the floor,” he said. “We intend to attach it to must-pass legislation because if we pass it on its own it might go to the House and it might not go all the way through.”
The senators said they are pushing to get three bills passed; the Dream Act that would grant permanent legal status to Dreamers, the Dreamer Confidentiality bill that would protect the private information of Dreamers and the Bridge Act that would extend DACA for three more years.
Both Wyden and Merkley said it is crucial to pass legislation before the new year.