Recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration did not have the authority to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.  Since 2012, DACA has allowed undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain here if they meet certain criteria.   

The Supreme Court’s decision is worth celebrating, but it is only a stopgap measure.  The ruling only shields DACA recipients from deportation for the time being as it still permits the administration to devise another way to attempt to end the program. 

DACA recipients would have never been subject to the whims of the Trump administration, however, if it weren’t for the failure of U.S. senators like Colorado's Cory Gardner.  Gardner tries to position himself as a moderate, but he merely talks the talk. When President Trump ordered DACA to stop accepting new applications in September 2017, he left it to Congress to adopt legislation to permanently protect the DACA program.  If Gardner had done his job and pushed the Senate to pass common sense legislation to protect DACA, the Supreme Court never would have needed to evaluate whether or not Trump could terminate DACA.

As a practicing physician, I know that DACA is critical to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis.  Nearly 29,000 DACA recipients are health care workers — doctors, nurses, paramedics and more.  About 200,000 DACA recipients serve in additional essential roles keeping the country functioning during the pandemic.

Gardner made a big show of keeping the Senate in session in May to pass coronavirus relief legislation, but he is indifferent to the Heroes Act passed by the House, a COVID-19 relief package that includes automatically renewing the work permits of DACA recipients. 

It’s clear that Gardner won’t act to protect a widely supported immigration program because he’s beholden to Trump. DACA recipients, their families, and their communities deserve better than Gardner, and it’s time to vote him out.  With Trump out of office and Democrats holding the Senate majority, we can pass legislation protecting DACA recipients right away in 2021.

Carlos Franco-Paredes, M.D.

Associate professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Center

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