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111 Members of Congress Call on Obama to Protect Immigrants’ Private Data

December 5, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, 111 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he take action to protect the names and private information of those who enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The letter, led by Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27), Zoe Lofgren (CA-29), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), and Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), specifically suggests an Executive Order that would prohibit the use of DACA enrollees’ information for purposes other than originally intended, including for purposes of deportation. The letter was endorsed by National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), and Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC). The authors of the letter released the following statements:

“When the government offered protection to immigrants if they worked hard, laid roots, went to school, and followed the laws, thousands acted on trust. Now that they’ve handed us names, addresses, birth certificates, and biometric information, we have to honor that trust,” said Rep. Judy Chu. “Further, President-elect Trump has said that his priority is to deport those who are a danger to our country. By qualifying for DACA, these immigrants are by definition not a threat to our country, but rather assets. I urge President Obama to take immediate executive action to protect these Dreamers before he leaves office.”

“The President, along with many Democratic Members of Congress, urged these young immigrants to come out of the shadows, and to register with the government on the premise that they may live without fear of deportation,” said Rep. Lofgren. “Now, with that assurance shattered, those of us who urged for and help implement the DACA program have a moral responsibility to do what we can to protect these young people from deportation under a Trump administration.”

“To misuse personal DACA information to tear away young men and women from the only home they know, the United States, would be more than legally misguided: it would be categorically wrong,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard. “The DACA application, which recipients signed in good faith, clearly states that no information ‘can be shared for the sole purpose of removal.’  It would be unconscionable to remove young Americans covered under DACA from the U.S.  I strongly urge President Obama to use his executive authority to protect them.”

“The men and women who courageously stepped out of the shadows to apply for DACA must not be punished,” Rep. Grijalva said. “The federal government promised to ensure their safety; we cannot waver on that commitment or allow the next administration to undermine it. The safety of every DACA applicant is at stake. I urge President Obama to ensure this program and the information it has collected are never used to harm the very people it intended to help.”

“We are going to do everything we can to protect the DREAMers who came forward to register under DACA, but that is only the beginning,” said Rep. Gutierrez. “If the new President is contemplating mass deportation of immigrants, he will have to go through us first.”

The letter was signed by: Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27), Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), Lucille Roybal – Allard (CA-40), Mike Honda (CA-17), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Jerold Nadler (NY-10), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Mike Doyle (PA-14), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23), Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Susan Davis (CA-53), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Xavier Becerra (CA-34), Bobby Scott (VA-03), Grace Meng (NY-06), Joseph Crowley (NY-14), Katherine M. Clark (MA-05), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Bill Keating (MA-09), Ted Lieu (CA-33), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Ruben Kihuen (NV-04) (Elect), Brenda Lawrence (MI-14), Jim Costa (CA-16), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Karen Bass (CA-37), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Jared Polis (CO-02), Mark Takano (CA-41), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Tony Cardenas (CA-29), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), David Price (NC-04), John Conyers (MI-13), Adam Schiff (CA-28), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Al Green (TX-09), Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Donald Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Alma Adams (NC-12), Joseph Kennedy Jr. (MA-04), Don Beyer (VA-08), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Ed Perlmutter (CO-07), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), John Garamendi (CA-03), Elliot Engel (NY-16), Gene Green (TX-29), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Ted Deutch (FL-21), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Albio Sires (NJ-08), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Peter Welch (VT-AL), Diana DeGette (CO-01), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Anna Eshoo (CA-18), John Lewis (GA-05), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Gregorio Sablan (N. Mariana-DD), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Dina Titus (NV-01), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), William Lacy Clay (MO-01), Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Jose Serrano (NY-15), Adam Smith (WA-09), John Yarmuth (KY-03), Kathy Castor (FL-14), Norma Torres (CA-35), Mike Quigley (IL-5), Sam Farr (CA-20), David Cicilline (RI-01), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Keith Ellison (MN-05), Bobby Rush (IL-01).

The letter can be found here and is pasted below:

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write to express our concerns about the potential misuse of the personal information of enrollees in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.  We urge you to consider taking executive action to prevent DACA enrollees’ personal information from being used for purposes other than originally intended, including for the purposes of removal.

When your Administration first introduced the DACA program in 2012, it gave hope to many children of immigrants—commonly referred to as “Dreamers”—who were brought to this country at very young ages.  Since the implementation of DACA, we have been able to see firsthand the profound effect that the program has had on the lives of the children and young adults it protects. Over 740,000 young Dreamers have been issued Social Security numbers and work permits, and many have used the benefits provided under DACA to seek job opportunities openly for the very first time. The DACA program allowed these individuals to enjoy many of the essential benefits, privileges, and responsibilities of American society that they had been denied for so long. Dreamers granted deferred action under DACA were freed from the constant fear of deportation to countries that many of them do not even know and do not call home; they responded by enriching their communities and becoming civically engaged in American life.

As a condition of receiving the guarantees of DACA, these children and young adults submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) numerous sources of information to verify identity, including fingerprints and other biometric data.  They also underwent background checks and provided their home addresses, where family members may also reside.  Other sensitive information, such as documentation of an arrest or charge of a misdemeanor in the United States or any other country, was also requested of applicants for DACA.  In asking these undocumented youth for extensive personally identifying information, the Administration effectively asked them to place their trust in the government.  Now many of those same Dreamers are wondering whether their trust was misplaced, fearing for their future in the United States, and questioning whether they can or should seek protection under DACA.

Countless community advocates, organizers, and public servants have promoted the DACA program to Dreamers on the premise that the information they supply to DHS would not be used to deport them in the future.  We cannot stand by and allow the Trump Administration to exploit the trust these young Americans placed in us and the government.

We believe that when government makes promises it should keep them.  We urge you to do everything within your power to safeguard the personal identifying information of DACA enrollees, including issuing an Executive Order prohibiting the use of DACA enrollee information for purposes other than originally intended.  While this program is a significant part of the Administration’s legacy, it is more importantly a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of young Dreamers looking to lead productive and peaceful lives as members of American society.

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