President Barack Obama on 15th June 2012 created a new immigration policy calling for deferred action for certain undocumented people who migrated to the United States as children and had either illegally entered or remained in the country. They were to receive a renewable two-year contract from deportation and were eligible for a work permit in the U.S. About 800000 people known as Dreamers were enrolled in the program after the Dream Act bill came into place. As such, President Obama declared his intention to expand the DACA policy to cover for new illegal immigrants (Ordway).However numerous states sued to ban the expansion which was eventually blocked by the courts. On 16th June 2017, the Department of Homeland Security revoked the extension while continuing to evaluate the existence of DACA program as a whole. In that capacity, the Trump administration rescinded the plan; however full implementation was delayed to give to the Congress time to deal with the already existing population that was eligible for the program.
Unable to find a solution to protect the children who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own, is what led President Obama to introduce the DACA policy through executive action. Conservatives, however, accused him of overstepping his authority but had no legal proof. The Dreamers, however, argue that after being raised and attending schools in the U.S, they qualify to be American citizens but only lack legal recognition. When DACA was established, Obama's executive arm had strong support from the public majority. This is according to research which found that approximately 63% of those sampled approved of the program (Gonzales).Later on, nearly two-thirds of American citizens favored the Dreamers to stay in the United States.
After watching Trump fail to rescind DACA entirely, anti-immigration Republican state leaders decided that they will force him. Many in Trump's circle argue that the program is unconstitutional; the Dreamers are illegal and are a threat to American jobs and culture. As such, the attorney general of Texas, Ken Paxton, sent a letter to Sessions( DACA opposers) threatening to add the initiative to another anti-immigration lawsuit that was already underway against the federal government unless it revokes the program (Walters).Furthermore, the attorney generals of West Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina, Kansas and Nebraska also signed the letter. Later, Tennessee decided to support DACA and find a permanent solution for those in legal immigration limbo.
After Sessions decided to rescind DACA, Washington DC and other fifteen states announced their lawsuit against the administration. In that regard, Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson said the decision to end the program was not only unlawful but also outrageous, and he was not going to put up with it. The states that followed suit were North Carolina, Iowa, Hawaii, Virginia, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Consequently, California announced its suit. In addition to advocates of immigration, most politicians from the Democratic sect and a majority of national politicians did not want DACA to be scraped off; this included prominent people such as House speaker Paul Ryan and John McCain, senator for Arizona. A famous group of religious leaders wrote to Trump telling him that Dreamers are leading in the churches and the communities at large.
DACA is on the chopping block, and Trump is under pressure to make a fast decision about its future. The prospect to rescind the program is going into sharp relief: calling attention to the Dreamers who have benefited from it and how it has transformed their lives over the past five years.Below is a guide to the program, who it protects and what could happen in the future (Lind).
1. DACA policy protects Dreamers-illegal immigrants brought to the U.S as minors.
Children who were illegally brought into the U.S by their parents were growing up in a nation where they could never become legal citizens. These children became famously known as Dreamers after the Dream Act legislation was introduced in 2001.Later DACA was launched in 2012 to give them temporary protection from deportation and a work permit to work in America legally. The security was valid for two years after which the immigrants could apply for renewal.
However, not all Dreamers benefited from DACA.As such, to apply for the program, immigrants have to have come to the United States before 2007 and have been fifteen years or younger during their time of arrival and younger than thirty-one years when the policy was introduced. They had to have a clean criminal record and be in high school or have a diploma or an equivalent. It is estimated that 1.3 million immigrants would be eligible for DACA, but only 800,000 people benefit from it.
2. DACA is part of a generation raised alongside American citizens.
What unites Dreamers is the experience they have had while in the U.S. Technically, all of them are eligible for the program if they came to the U.S. while under sixteen years old. Many were not even aware that they were illegal immigrants until they were of age; when they realized they could not join their colleagues in getting a drivers license or filing financial aid forms while in college. From the Dreamers perspective, however, their parents and guardians came to the United States to give them a better life just like any other immigrant parent does. They refuse to make themselves look better by making their parents the villains.
3. Politicians have been discussing what to do with the immigrants for more than a decade.
The first proposal to allow immigrants who would come to the U.S as minors were introduced in 2001.It was referred to as the Dream Act. For a while, the act was alternative to many unauthorized immigrants. However, with both Democrats and Republicans divided on the issue, it was not popular enough to get the votes needed to break the filibuster in the Senate house. The risk that a Dreamer would be deported was quite high though the majority of the Americans wanted them to stay since they were politically sympathetic.
4. President Obama gave immigrants a temporary solution to protect themselves from deportation. Obama administration in 2012 announced that illegal immigrants who meet specific criteria would apply for a work permit from the government to delay deportation proceedings for two years. Still, DACA documented immigrants are lawfully present in the U.S but, lack legal status.
Pros of the Dream Act
The act provides economic certainties-the policy promoted a safe alternative where people would pay taxes and create an economic nexus within their community (Vittana).
It offers a possible path to being an American citizen.
The program supports the U.S military-approximately 1000 people who benefit from DACA are currently serving in the military.
It allows law enforcement agencies to focus on more significant issues than the legal status of a Dreamer.
It promotes cultural diversity.
Increase in wages-The Manhattan Institute notes that when more migrants are in the American workforce, wages of the natives will increase.
Cons of the Dream Act
The decrease of job opportunities-this means there will be more competition for the available jobs.
Children brought to the U.S and are covered by DACA are still in the country illegally, and that means violating the law.
Increase in resource consumption-giving many people access to medical care and other facilities becomes a challenge.
Illegal border movements-granting citizenship through the Act could encourage more unlawful border crossings particularly in an era where terrorism is a constant threat.
Innovation is fostered; however, that is not a guarantee to problem-solving.
Change in the political structure of the U.S-by giving citizenship to illegal immigrants, there is a chance that many votes could be generated for the Democrat sect thereby changing the political structure in the United States.
The question of whether the Dreamers will be forced to leave or not remains unanswered. Apparently, the action may not be immediate. According to Homeland Security Department, the act will be phased out but with an official end in six months. In that capacity, the American immigration services will stop accepting applications. Overall, deferred action is a form of relief that defers deportation from the U.S. The policy does not confer legal status to immigrants; however, it grants them work permits if they demonstrate economic necessity. Also, it retains the right to end or renew deferred action at the discretion of the agency. The program does not excuse previous unlawful records nor does it provide a path to permanent citizenship. As such, each person must be potentially eligible and qualify for deferred action.
Gonzales, Richard. 5 Questions About DACA Answered. 5 September 2017. https://www.npr.org/2017/09/05/548754723/5-things-you-should-know-about-daca.
Lind, Dara. How DACA works, who it protects, and what will happen to immigrants if Trump shuts it down. 5 September 2017. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/31/16226934/daca-trump-dreamers-immigration.
Ordway, Denise-Marie. "DACA, the DREAM Act and undocumented immigrants: A primer for journalists." (2017). https://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/immigration/daca-deferred-action-undocumented-immigrants-research.
Vittana. 15 Pros and Cons of the Dream Act. n.d. https://vittana.org/15-pros-and-cons-of-the-dream-act.
Walters, Joanna. What is Daca and who are the Dreamers? 14 September 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/sep/04/donald-trump-what-is-daca-dreamers.
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