Communities in the United States are coming together in solidarity and mourning from all corners of the United States, due to President Donald J. Trump’s announcement that he is terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA was founded by President Barack Obama in 2012, to allow undocumented immigrants who entered the country as youth below the age of 16, to apply for a renewable 2-year permit of protection from deportation, and eligibility to work in the U.S.
As a strong supporter of DACA, the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, took to Facebook to write:
“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.”
What Is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program?
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was designed to protect undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were young. DACA allowed these youth, aka Dreamers, to legally obtain jobs in the United States, and made them eligible to reapply for DACA protections every two years.
In order for these youth to qualify for DACA, they had to meet the following, very strict criteria:
- Are under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the U.S. while under the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present. (For purposes of calculating this five year period, brief and innocent absences from the United States for humanitarian reasons will not be included);
- Entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind; and
- Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
What are the implications of ending DACA?
According to the Cato Institute, 790,148 people who came to the United States as children or young teens will be at risk of deportation as early as March 2018. The Projected DACA Expirations (by year) below, show that about 110,653 Dreamers whose 3-year permits will be expiring in 2017 (2-year and 3-year-renewal permits both exist), followed by 403,909 Dreamers with expiring permits in 2018, and 275,586 Dreamers with expiring permits in 2019.
Economists fear that deporting Dreamers will also have dire consequences for the U.S. economy, with the Center for American Progress (CAP) report from July 2017 putting the potential economic loss at USD$460.3B from the national GDP over the next ten years from the removal of an estimated 700,000 professionals from the nation’s economy.
What Can You Do To Stand For Dreamers?
- Sign a petition such as this one to demand Congress pass Dream Act of 2017, which was introduced on July 2017 by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Dream Act of 2017 provides a direct road to U.S. citizenship for undocumented people who have DACA permits or temporary protected status (TPS), and “who graduate from U.S. high schools and attend college, enter the workforce, or enlist in a military program.”
- E-mail Congress! The ACLU website has a script for you to follow, along with a form ready for you to fill in and send away.
- Learn as much as you can about DACA, and spread the word about things you learn!
- Search for local support groups that you can organize awareness and support events through.
Dreamers are law-abiding and hardworking citizens who’ve finished or continued their education, and potentially even served the country in some way, who are now being persecuted for no action that was a fault, or choice, of their own. Dreamers are professionals amongst us – our friends, our mentors, care-givers, chefs, cleaning crews, gardeners, young moms and dads.
They are only seeking to build a home for themselves and their families, like you and I – and they should not be branded as illegal, and kicked out of the only home they’ve ever chosen.