What is DACA? Who are the Dreamers?

 

 

Last month the Trump Administration decided to end the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA). The program provided protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants that arrived in the United States as children.

DACA was created by Barack Obama back in 2012 as a filler program until Congress could come up with a permanent solution for the children of illegal immigrants. The need for the program was created due to the failure of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act or the DREAM Act. From this failed act is where the name “Dreamers” comes from, which is what the some 800,000 young people protected by DACA refer to themselves as. The DREAM Act was supposed to provide a chance to those who arrived in the United States illegally as children an opportunity at permanent legal residency. However the DREAM Act has failed to pass several times since its introduction in 2001.

So what exactly does DACA do? DACA provides undocumented immigrants that arrived in the United States as children protection from deportation as long as they follow the criteria of the policy. In order to be eligible, people had to be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012. They also had to of arrived in the United States before turning 16 and also had to be continuously living in the United States since June 2007. Applicants are also screened for any criminal history and must be students or completed school or served in the military. If eligible they are protected from deportation for two years and are given the chance to renew after two years as long as they are still eligible. They are also given the opportunity to get a driver’s license, enroll in college, and receive a work permit.

The Trump administration has given Congress six months to come up with a more permanent solution to deal with some 800,000 undocumented young people protected under DACA, before he will start to deport them back to their home countries. President Trump has flip-flopped many times when it comes to DACA and immigration policy. During his campaign for president, Trump promised to deport all illegal immigrants and to “rip up DACA”.

Since deciding to end DACA, President Trump has been working with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to strike a deal that would eventually provide a path down the road to permanent legal residency to all of the young people who are currently protected by DACA. During an interview the President said “we are looking at allowing people to stay here. We’re talking about taking care of people, people that were brought here, people that have done a good job and were not brought here on their own volition.” This has caused a rift between President Trump and the people that voted for him in the past election. Many of the people voted for Trump believing in the promises that he made and since being President he has gone back on those promises multiple times.

The deal that the President has struck with Schumer and Pelosi would give all of the people under DACA full citizenship, but it would also allocate more funding to stronger border security. This has caused a major backlash among other Democrats and the dreamers themselves. They believe that they would be giving up too much to protect the “Dreamers” and that the fate of the DREAM Act should be put to a vote. At a press conference in September a group of “Dreamers” shouted “We undocumented youth demand a clean bill. We undocumented youth will not be a bargaining chip for Trump” at Pelosi.

If no deal is reached by the six-month period people will start to be deported back to their home countries and the effects of deportation will harm the US economy for a decade. According to a report from FWD.us, a pro-immigration reform group co-founded by Mark Zuckerberg, found that 91 percent of DACA recipients are employed. If all of those workers are deported the US gross domestic product would see a reduction of $433 billion over the next decade, according to a study done by the Center for American Progress. Some of the major cities that would take the biggest hits are California and Florida considering that many of DACA recipients live in those states. They could expect see losses in the billions every year due to the loss of workers. Many large American corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook have also expressed concerns if the DACA recipients are deported. Many of those companies employ DACA recipients at their higher level positions and don’t want to lose the contributions that they make to their companies.  

ALEX ST. PETERS
astpeters@lc.edu