DACA: Why it Matters

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that was established by the Obama administration in June 2012. DACA was created to protect illegal immigrants who had been brought to the United States young, granting them two years of protection from deportation and allowing them to work and attend school. The program allowed eligible immigrants the benefit of security so as to enable them to pursue goals like jobs and education, thus giving the recipients of this program the nickname “Dreamers”. On September 5 of this year, however, President Trump has called for an end to the program and announced plans to phase it out over the next six months, while Congress is given time to work on a replacement. Because of this, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, anyone with a DACA that expires as soon as March 2018 will become eligible for deportation. Statistics indicate that over 700,000 people were reliant on DACA as of September 5th, and all had one month to submit issuances for renewal.

The looming end of DACA is not only shocking for the young recipients of the program but for their families as well. For Dreamers, DACA was what allowed them to make an income and support their families. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act was also estimated to be substantially beneficial to the American economy around the time the program was created by the Center for American Progress. They projected that nearly 1.4 billion new jobs would be created by 2030 with aid of the DACA program. It is evident based on this projection that they were not expecting the program to be cut so short.

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Another aspect to consider is the fact that many of the jobs worked by Dreamers are not the most desirable jobs in America. Despite this fact, they continue to perform this work, pay taxes, and provide for themselves and their families. Also, two recent studies have shown that 1 in 4 Dreamers are parents of children who are U.S. citizens, according to the Center for American Progress. For these parents, the future for themselves and their families is unclear, as the renunciation of DACA makes them a potential target of deportation while their children, as citizens, are safe. And although the Dreamers may not be citizens, many of these young people internalize and embody some of the most important ideals of the American nation.

Many observers are waiting in anxious anticipation to see what will come of Congress’ efforts to replace DACA. Although Trump has insisted that he is focused on providing new protection for Dreamers, Congressional legislation may not end up reflecting this intention, especially with opposition from conservative legislators. One month of the allotted six-month time frame Congress was given to reform the program has already passed, and their plans are still not completely clear. With the reluctance of conservatives to pass new laws concerning the protection of Dreamers, many are apprehensive that not enough action will be taken to support the former recipients of DACA.

Regardless of political affiliation, the people of America are anticipating government decisions with trepidation. With hundreds of thousands of people depending on DACA, any moves made by Congress or President Trump within the next five months will drastically alter the lives of the country’s Dreamers.