Dreams Shattered: Trump Rescinds DACA

On Tuesday the 5th of September, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of the “Dreamers’ Program,” a move engineered by President Donald Trump. The program, officially named the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA), was an initiative by the Obama administration intended to aid young immigrants gaining protection from deportation. Trump’s motivation behind terminating the program is to steer the opportunities created by the program to American citizens, over immigrants.

The latest government figures reveal that the Dreamers’ Program currently protects 787,580 individuals. CNN reports that DACA enabled recipients to legally attain driver’s licenses, employment opportunities and apply for tertiary education. Sessions defended the decision, stating that the program “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs.” The Anne Frank Centre, a leading human rights organisation, responded aptly to the announcement describing the act as “child abuse under the guise of public policy.” Program initiator and former president Barack Obama indicated the consequences of Trump’s resolution: “[a] shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again.”

Effectively, the termination of the Dreamers’ Program eradicates the rights of young immigrants in the U.S. Given the remarkable success of the program, aiding almost 800,000 young people integrate into a namely ‘free’ society, its end comes as a grave disappointment to both immigrants and their supporters. Additionally, it is a heartbreaking message to program recipients that their prospects are less significant than those of their citizenship-holding counterparts. In a series of anti-immigration policies, the Trump administration  targeting young individuals who have achieved outstanding accomplishments through the program undermines the essence of global integration. Attorney General Session’s description of the recipients as “aliens” comes as a slap in the face to all immigrants, and is undoubtedly a step-back in the wide scheme of migration.

Having shifted responsibility of the decision onto Congress, President Trump has left the legislative assembly with just six months to formulate new legislation to protect recipients of the DACA program. However, since the President came into office, no major legislation has been passed in Congress. Despite numerous other initiatives to discourage migration into the United States, President Trump has been conflicted on culling the Dreamers’ Program. During his presidential campaign, he affirmed the dismantling of the program upon his election. However, in February 2017, when asked about the program he responded, “We’re gonna deal with DACA with heart.”

The program is destined to be phased out by the 5th of March in 2018, rendering integration processes for hopeful young immigrants even more difficult. U.S. Congress has a critical responsibility in acting on the decision, as their choices could expose almost 300,000 individuals to deportation in 2018. Given migration has proven successful in many nations including the United States, the message conveyed through the administration’s decision is a regressive one. Instead of attempts to unify the American population, immigrants and all, President Trump is consciously applying exclusionary policies to demean already marginalised groups.