Congress is now responsible for the future of over 800,000 people after the White House’s decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era executive order. The president has given a six-month window to decide what to do with these immigrants who arrived in the country as children, many of whom consider the United States their home.
DACA provided these immigrants the chance to work legally in the U.S. and come out of the shadows. Without DACA, these undocumented immigrants — who are known as DREAMers, in reference to the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — face the immediate threat of deportation.
While DACA affords these immigrants opportunities they would not have had without it, closer examination reveals that it is inadequate. These people deserve more than DACA, they deserve a comprehensive path to citizenship. So, Congress, I implore you to give these people a chance to achieve their American dream and give them what DACA did not.
The majority of those eligible for DACA are from Mexico, making up 62 percent of total immigrants eligible for DACA. Behind Mexico are Guatemala and El Salvador, who together represent only 9 percent of those eligible for DACA.
During his campaign, Trump vowed to get rid of all the “bad hombres” that penetrate our country’s borders. Never mind that immigrants in the U.S. are less likely to commit crime than natural-born citizens. Ending DACA is seen as Trump remaining true to his promises to create stronger borders and stricter immigration policy.
During the administration’s announcement on Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions justified the president’s decision to rescind DACA by calling it a matter of “national security” and “public safety.”
Contrary to Sessions’ remarks, those who apply for DACA must pass a background check to ensure that they have not committed any felonies or significant misdemeanors.
Those who benefit from DACA are not the “bad hombres” President Trump warns about, nor are they the threats to “public safety” the Attorney General speaks of.
Another facet of Sessions’ announcement that should be confronted is when he claimed that DACA’s passage in 2012 “contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border.”
Sessions’ statement ignores the fact that DACA only applies to illegal immigrants that arrived in the U.S. before the passage of DACA in 2012. Any immigrants arriving after DACA’s passage would not qualify for its benefits.
What DACA recipients cannot have
DREAMers do not qualify for several government programs even though they pay their fair share of taxes. Under DACA, recipients are ineligible for programs like the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and public housing.
Collectively, those enrolled or eligible for DACA contribute $2 billion a year to state and local taxes. If DACA included a path to citizenship, DREAMers would create $505 million in additional state and local tax revenue.
Congress now has that chance to provide a path to citizenship for the 1.3 million immigrants eligible for DACA. Our federal lawmakers should understand that those who participate in DACA are improving the quality of life for all Americans and deserve their quality of life to be improved as well.
In an open letter, the executives and owners of 705 American companies denounced Trump’s decision to rescind DACA in hopes of swaying Congress. The signees included Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and General Motors CEO Mary Barra.
Together they proclaimed, “We call on Congress to pass the bipartisan DREAM Act or legislation that provides these young people raised in our country the permanent solution they deserve.”
In their letter they added, “Our economy would lose $460.3 billion from the national GDP and $24.6 billion in Social Security and Medicare tax contributions.”
Congress should answer the call of these business executives that recognize the economic contribution of DREAMers.
It is shameful that, while DACA recipients have proven they are productive members of society, their presence in the U.S. continues to be questioned and requires legitimization.
Former president Barack Obama released a statement on Facebook following the administration’s announcement saying, “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.”
Obama’s sentiments reflect the ridiculousness of rescinding DACA.
It could be argued that Trump is trying to improve DACA by allowing it to go through “lawful Democratic process,” since Obama implemented DACA through executive order. But by rescinding DACA, Trump has left the fate of DREAMers uncertain.