On September 5, 2017, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was revoked by President Donald Trump’s administration. The DACA was introduced by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect young immigrants who had come to the United States at a young age with their family and lived the majority of their lives there, but are not considered legal residents. The DACA does not result in citizenship or a permanent residency, instead, it simply provides the young people with work permits that remain valid for two years, after which they must apply for a renewal. The group are often referred to as ‘Dreamers’ because Obama’s administration failed to pass the Dream Act, which would have allowed them to eventually gain citizenship. Instead, they are Dreamers because they were given only two years of stability and hope of a legal life in the U.S. with no actual pathway to citizenship under DACA
The previous President Barack Obama, who created the DACA in 2012, has condemned the actions taken by the White House, calling the decision “cruel” as it is not legally required and has only been done as a “political decision.” Obama calls for everyone to support the Dreamers because “whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us.” Meanwhile, the Director of Immigration Policy at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lorella Praeli, said: “President Trump just threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families, including my own, into fearful disarray, and injected chaos and uncertainty into thousands of workplaces and communities across America…He is using the lives of 800,000 people as pawns.” Even Republican Senator, John McCain, tweeted that Trump has the “wrong approach at a time when both sides need to compromise on #immigration reform.”
With that said, this seems to be the wrong approach at the wrong time considering the rising tensions within the U.S. around race politics, as well as increasing issues internationally. To expand, immigration is a race issue because many of the arguments for deportation are rooted in racism and prejudice. Immigration is also an international issue because it places pressures on other governments to solve many logistical and social issues related to a sudden influx of new and unestablished residents. As such, this is not something that can be dealt with by simply passing a bill in Congress. Instead, the ending of DACA involves peoples’ livelihoods across America and the world, and will cause the displacement of hundreds of thousands who will not have anywhere to call home. As Obama stated, this act is simply “about basic decency” for these individuals, their families, friends, workplaces, and original nations.
As such, this action to end the DACA has caused outrage from both political spectrums because of the nature of this program. The DACA already follows a strict structure that ensures only certain applicants are approved, with participants only being successful if they have no criminal record, arrived before the age of 16, and are under the age of 31 when applying. Many of the people on the DACA program had only lived in their original country for an extremely short time, and do not know the culture, language or practice of the places that they will likely be forced to return to. However, these people want to live and work in the U.S, and passionately call it their home and identify themselves as Americans.
In the meantime, Congress has six months to pass legislation to completely renounce the DACA, and those who are part of the program have until October 5th, 2017, to renew their application for another two years. If it is passed, many residents will be forced to work for less money, which will impact their livelihoods in multiple ways. For example, many people will no longer be able to afford college educations, and it is feared that they will eventually be found and deported.
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