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AAA Urges Congress to Swiftly Secure DACA Legislation
The American Anthropological Association urges Congress to act swiftly to pass legislation to restore security and educational and employment opportunities to all undocumented youth as well as youth with temporary status living in the United States. A legislative solution is far superior to the more precarious executive orders and other policy instruments patched together in the last five years.
We reject the zero-sum politics whereby granting protections for undocumented youth is made contingent upon heightened border enforcement and pitting “deserving” youth against “undeserving” immigrants. In short, undocumented youth or “Dreamers” should not be afforded legal status only at the expense of demonizing or criminalizing their parents or other immigrants. Anthropological research shows that undocumented youth and their families are deeply integrated into the fabric of U.S. communities and contribute to the political, social, economic, and cultural life of our country. According to the Pew Research Center, more than 2/3 of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2014 have lived here for more than a decade. DACA was made necessary by the repeated failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform that addresses undocumented immigrants’ longstanding presence in, and contributions to, U.S. society.
A proper legislative solution would provide undocumented youth with the security of permanent legal status and an achievable pathway to citizenship. This is key to allowing young people to pursue higher education and careers and to build a life in this country without fear of future loss of legal status. As research shows, undocumented youth with the security of permanent legal status consistently pursue higher education and professional careers at high rates.
This legislation should not be a temporary stop-gap measure that merely affords temporary stays of deportation, and it should not be a cynical cover for ultra-nationalist instruments that call for border walls, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, or the thoughtless exclusion of Central American asylum seekers.
Founded in 1902, AAA is the world's largest professional anthropology organization, with more almost 10,000 members dedicated to advancing human understanding and addressing the world's most pressing problems. Our members include teachers, researchers, and students impacted by the DACA rescission.
While immediate action is necessary to offset the impact of DACA’s rescission on previously undocumented youth, we urge Congress to provide all undocumented immigrants with comprehensive reform that will secure their legal status and their ability to work, study, and thrive in the United States.
This statement was prepared in collaboration with the Steering Committee of the Anthropologist Action Network for Immigrants and Refugees.
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Founded in 1902, the American Anthropological Association, with 10,000 members, is the world’s largest scholarly and professional organization of anthropologists. The Association is dedicated to advancing human understanding and applying this understanding to the world’s most pressing problems.