ALEX CRAWFORD, PUSHING FORWARD
Once again, Donald Trump has made the wrong decision. Reports surfaced yesterday that the President has decided to end Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects people who were brought to this country illegally by their parents. Even after he said he “love[s] the DREAMers.” The DACA program allows 800,000 undocumented children to work and study in the United States, while protecting them from deportation. Both Democrats and Republicans have been urging Donald Trump not to end the program, including Speaker of The House Paul Ryan.
Of course we hear the same old lines from the Trump team, with Kellyanne Conway saying Trump “wants to do what’s fair to the American worker, what’s fair to people in this country who are competing for jobs and other benefits….He says we have to keep people and poison out of our communities. People who are coming here illegally and competing for those jobs.” It’s clear what the message coming from the White House is: it’s another plank of the America First platform couched in polite racism. This move also seems to be another part of Trumps grand plan, to undo everything Barack Obama accomplished in his 8 years as president.
First things first, the requirements to qualify for the DACA program are very restrictive, according to The American Immigration Center website they are:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Entered the United States prior to your 16th birthday; and,
- Have resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 and currently are present in the U.S; and,
- Were in the United States on June 15, 2012 and must be physically in the U.S. at the time of filing for your request for deferred action; and,
- Must have entered the United States without border inspection before June 15, 2012, or your immigration status expired prior to June 15, 2012;
- Must be currently in school, have graduated, or obtained an equivalent certificate of completion from high school, successfully obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or must have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States; and,
- Must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
If recipients of DACA, known as DREAMers, don’t follow any of these requirements, reapply every two years and pay the $500 fee, they are no longer protected and can then be deported. The Trump Administration has long provoked fears of ‘criminal illegal immigrants,’ but the fact of the matter is that there is a negligible crime rate among DREAMers because if they do commit a crime, they are held accountable and lose their protection. These people are upstanding, most of whom have only ever lived in the United States, and have earned every right to be here.
DREAMers are a vital part of the American economy. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, Inc., tweeted that he stands in solidarity with the 250 employees at Apple who are DACA status. 97% of DREAMers are in the workforce or in school. If the DACA status is terminated, these companies would be forced to fire these people, causing a substantial negative impact on the economy. According to an analysis by David Bier of the CATO Institute, any potential rescission of DACA would cost employers $6.3 billion in employee turnover costs, including recruiting, hiring, and training 720,000 new employees. Every week for the next two years, U.S. employers would have to terminate 6,914 employees who currently participate in DACA at a weekly cost of $61 million. That’s not to mention all the spending power and tax revenue generated by DACA recipients. If nothing is done to protect their status, this decision would have big league economic consequences.
Beyond economic costs, there needs to be a moral consideration. Around 50% of all DACA recipients came to the United States before age 6. Regardless of how one feels about illegal immigration, this is a different issue. DREAMers were brought here as children. They had no choice in the matter; they are not “criminals” and rescinding DACA will not send them “home.” The United States of America is their home, and it’s the only country that most have ever known. Sending them “back” is just cruel, and again appeals to worst part of who we are as Americans, and might be one of the worst decisions Trump has made as president.
People who have benefited from the DACA program have been taking to twitter to talk about the fear they are facing. Juan Escalante who is a digital campaigns manager for pro-immigration group America’s Voice, wrote about the fears of what will happen to DREAMers. What would happen to “car leases, mortgages, student loans, relationships, degrees among other things”? DREAMers could lose the things they’ve worked so hard for, and could get deported to countries they have most likely never known or called ‘home.’ These fears and worries are now on the minds of the DREAMers who depend of this program to live a normal, worry free life. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) recently met with DREAMers as she pledges to defend DACA, many of whom are college graduates who are trying to make the US a better place. Sen. Harris believes that opinions about DREAMers would change if people met them. Meeting DREAMers would demonstrate that the immigration issue is more than what we see on television: it’s a human one; it’s about people who are trying to make the best lives for themselves and live the American Dream.
DREAMers did not take “American jobs.” They worked hard for what they have. Congress needs to act with bipartisanship and come together, as legislators on both sides have called for action and legislation to protect them. DREAMers do not deserve to be punished. They might have had no choice to come here, but they have every right to stay here. Let’s hope The United States government does the right thing, and protects the DREAMers who deserve it.