President-elect Donald Trump's draconian immigration plans have left millions of people uncertain and afraid for their future in this country, including the hundreds of thousands of young people known as DREAMers whom President Obama has worked to protect. But as Obama prepares to leave office, others are gearing up to defend his acts. California's newly-elected Senator Kamala Harris is doing so with her first move in office.

In 2012, after years of attempts to get the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act — known as the DREAM Act — through Congress and onto his desk, President Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting certain young undocumented immigrants who met specific criteria, and who would have been protected by the DREAM Act. Later that year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting requests under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

But with the election of Donald Trump and Congress remaining under Republican control, the futures of the DREAM Act, DACA, and the people those laws would protect are all in grave jeopardy. Trump, of course, has made no secret of his punitive immigration plans, from building a wall along the Mexican border to rescinding Obama’s executive order implementing DACA.

Many immigrants, including young children, are frightened of what will happen to them and their families once those plans get underway. But they have allies in the Democratic party, and particularly in California’s newly-elected Senator, Kamala Harris.

As California’s Attorney General, Harris was a staunch defender of immigrant rights, including supporting the state’s own version of the DREAM Act, and she has promised that California would be “a voice of leadership” in Washington on immigration reform.

Now, in her first move as Senator, she is making good on that promise and bringing her principled dedication to the fight:

Harris’s successor as Attorney General, Democratic Representative Xavier Becerra, has also promised to continue the work of putting California at the forefront of progressive immigration reform. As both he and Harris understand, in many cases, “As goes California, so goes the nation.”

California’s population of nearly 39 million includes roughly 2.67 million undocumented immigrants, almost a quarter of the undocumented population of the nation. Thus, the state is well-situated to provide an example of how to welcome and support immigrant communities, while demonstrating that doing so does not endanger society but rather broadens it to more fully realize the ideal of the United States as a melting pot.

And Harris is ready to bring that example to her new colleagues in Washington.

- Advertisement -