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Late on Sunday, the Trump administration announced a set of extreme anti-immigrant proposals in exchange for legislation to protect Dreamers. Together, these demands would eviscerate protections for asylum-seekers, scale up the criminalization of immigrant communities, further reduce the refugee program, and slash the number of diversity and family visas—all in service of a white nationalist immigration platform. UUSC calls on Congress to reject these demands.

“After revoking DACA, Trump said he had ‘great love’ for Dreamers. Love was in short supply when they created these policies. Congress should ignore these demands and pass a clean Dream Act now.” – Vice President and Chief Program Officer Rachel Freed

UUSC strongly condemns these proposed policies and opposes any attempt to use Dreamers as political “bargaining chips” to further the administration’s xenophobic and racist agenda. “The President is holding the lives and futures of Dreamers hostage to policies that would cause irrevocable harm to their parents and families, and the immigrant community at large,” said Rachel Freed, vice president and chief program officer at UUSC. “After revoking DACA, Trump said he had ‘great love’ for Dreamers. Love was in short supply when they created these policies. Congress should ignore these demands and pass a clean Dream Act now.”

The human toll of anti-immigrant policies

The proposals also include the termination of protections for unaccompanied minors through amendments to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. These changes would allow the administration to deport unaccompanied Central American children without a hearing, through a process known as “expedited removal,” leaving them vulnerable, unsafe, and violating their human rights.

UUSC’s extensive research into the Central American refugee crisis confirmed that the vast majority of unaccompanied children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are fleeing significant violence. Without a chance to plead their asylum case, they are at risk not only from the persecutors who first drove them from the country but from other criminal networks that prey on recent deportees and children with family connections to the United States.

While the administration’s pitches its attacks on unaccompanied minors as efforts to disrupt human trafficking, in reality, criminalization and hyper-enforcement are key drivers of trafficking and exploitation. Both increase the vulnerability of victims by making it dangerous or impossible to report violations and demand justice.

UUSC’s partners see the human toll of criminalization on immigrant communities every day. Grassroots Leadership, a UUSC partner based in Austin, Tex., that one of their community members, Juan Coronilla-Guerrero, had been murdered after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE ) deported him to Mexico, despite warnings from his family that his life would be in danger should he leave the United States. Kino Border Initiative, a UUSC partner in Nogales, Ariz., recently documented the case of a man who was refused entry to see his sick wife after his deportation. She later died, and he ultimately lost custody of his seven U.S. citizen children.

Tragedies like these are the inevitable result of policies that value politics and hate above people and families. These policies will do little to keep people safe and do not benefit the United States. “This is not what ‘great love’ looks like,” said Freed. “Love resists criminalization, deportation, and racism. We won’t be held hostage by Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda and demand Congress pass a clean Dream Act now.”