Through three presidents over a decade, young undocumented immigrants known as “dreamers” have emerged as a potent political force and the sympathetic public face of the immigration debate.
Since 2012, roughly 800,000 have secured permits from the government allowing them to work without fear of deportation under an Obama-era program. Eighty-six percent of the public favors allowing them to permanently remain in the country. Cultural icons from Barack Obama to Kim Kardashian West have sent messages of support.
“I stand with the Dreamers,” Kardashian West wrote on Twitter in September.
But even as the dreamers, brought to the country illegally as children, have become more closely integrated into the fabric of American society, their very political success has exposed them to the whims of Washington’s legislative impotency. Since the George W. Bush administration they have been buffeted by a severe whiplash of extraordinary policy victories — and crushing defeats.
This month, the dreamers face the biggest test yet of their political clout — a make-or-break moment in their long path to the precipice of becoming fully legalized residents. A loss would mean a devastating return to living in the shadows and the perpetual fear of being deported.
Young undocumented immigrants hope a decade of political activism can pay off in face of the administration’s effort to end Obama-era deferred action program