Baraсk Obama proposed the DACA policy to fix issues related to children of immigrants, giving hope to millions of illegal immigrants living in the USA.According to US legislation, all illegal immigrants should be able to have an opportunity to become a legal resident of USA. Before DACA, even undocumented children were subjected to deportation, and children are currently the most vulnerable to proposed changes in immigration legislation.
Children who currently benefit from DACA, came to the United States with parents or relatives between 1990 and 1996, having little say in the matter. For the most part they have always lived in the USA, and five years ago DACA gave them a reprieve from deportation. This delay gave them the chance to get a driver’s license and the right to study and work. Now, Donald Trump wants to put an end to DACA, to avoid pressure from the Republican party. To understand why DACA is so important to immigrants, we need to look back in time to 1986.
Can of worms for all immigrants and for the U.S. as well
The US government has made many controversial political decisions, some of which have shaken the country and led to serious social anxiety. One such action was the Reagan amnesty law, dating back to 1986, where millions of immigrants were granted legal status. Another critical change occurred in 1996 with the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, signed into law under President Bill Clinton. This bill laid the groundwork for the deportation machine now in place. It forced people who accrued unlawful presence of more than 180 continues days but less than one year, to leave the country for three years. To receive a pardon for living in the U.S. illegally for a year or longer, an immigrant had to be away from the U.S. for 10 years. This was a serious strike, both for illegal immigrants and for the USA.
The US government thought this law would change the situation with immigration, but the law backfired, with even higher numbers of immigrants entering the country illegally. Until now, deportation has posed a constant threat for thousands of immigrants. Even minor misdemeanors like shoplifting can result in deportation. Attempts to challenge deportation policies have failed due to immigration detention. One of the main tenets of the law is that illegal immigrants are deprived of the primary rights of US citizens (e.g.,they cannot drive a car, study at school or get a job).
DACA does not override the 1996 immigration law. It is merely a delay from deportation that young immigrants can take advantage of to get a job and enroll at school. It provides opportunities for vulnerable young people brought to USA against their wishes to work toward US citizenship.
Immigration Legislation Before DACA
Before DACA, there was Senator Durbin’s DREAM Act, an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. This act was intended to provide relief for young immigrants who were brought to the USA by their parents.
Despite efforts to resurrect it, the DREAM Act has had low support from Congress and the President. DACA was proposed to fulfill the same functions as the DREAM Act, providing a two-year delay of deportation, and giving illegal immigrants time to apply for permanent residency.
Recently, attorney generals demanded the Trump administration remove DACA for illegal immigrants. Otherwise his administration could face litigation from these states. The same scenario took place when the litigation prevented the expansion of DACA to parents of dreamers. DREAM Act 2017 is proposed again by Senators Durbin and Graham. Updated DREAM Act 2017 expands the eligibility for residence. It raises the age to under 18 when having arrived in USA. DACA Dreamers can acquire immediate protection under this new act. They would switch from DACA to Conditional Residency under DREAM Act. New DREAM Act 2017 is much more generous than DACA. Date of arrival could be 4 years before enactment. For instance, they managed to accept this law on October 2017 then child could arrive in USA by October 2013.
Since DACA is withdrawn and cancelled, the DREAM Act is the only hope for all dreamers who currently stay in USA. Still it is not over for DACA and there is a slight chance that DACA will be approved.
DACA and New Hope for Children
These five years have allowed many people to get jobs and enroll at school. “Dreamers” have even created their own companies in the U.S. In other words, they affect the US economy in positive ways. DACA recipients contribute positive and significant value to the welfare of the USA. Associate Professor of Political Science, Tom K. Wong got this information by surveying thousands of people. According to the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the US economy benefits from DACA recipients, who are contributing by:
- Earning higher wages (higher tax revenue);
- Buying cars;
- Purchasing homes;
- Creating new business and workplaces
According to the NILC, Fortune-500 businesses employ DACA recipients. Almost 100% of all recipients are currently working or enrolled in school. The positive impact of DACA clearly challenges the arguments made to justify winding the program down.
It is clear that all actions will have an effect on a society and its people. The cancellation of DACA may have serious repercussions for DACA recipients, and it will hurt immigrants without DACA status who cannot apply for DACA, and are waiting until March to know their future. The uncertainty of DACA creates untold anxiety for people who need certainty in their lives to plan their futures.
Immigrants have the option to leave the U.S. now and establish their living outside the country, but there is still a slight chance that DACA will be approved by Congress. However, the majority of DACA recipients have families, jobs and attend school in the U.S. Winding down DACA means loss of jobs and educational opportunities. All the years spent in the U.S. will be in vain, and they will have to find another place to live.
The effects of dismantling DACA should not be underestimated. It will affect not only the people protected by DACA, but also the greater society of the USA.
Given the current state of affairs, dismantling DACA will not fix the issue with illegal immigrants. There have been many precursors to this problem which the American government needs to fix. Doing so, will enable people to immigrate into the USA without having to hide their identities and enter the country illegally.