DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program started by the Obama administration in 2012 that allows illegal immigrants who came to the United States as minors to apply for 2-year renewable deferred action (delayed deportation) and work visas. As of 2017, 800,000 Dreamers (named after the DREAM Act) were enrolled in DACA.
The effects of DACA have been largely positive. Since the program was instituted, the number of immigrant households living in poverty has been reduced and the mental health of DACA members and their families have improved. Further, there is no evidence that DACA has had a negative effect on the economic success of native born Americans.
As of September 5 2017, the Trump administration announced its intention to end this program. However, it has urged congress to come up with a replacement program in the 90 days before the program officially ends. Despite this, Trump administration has alerted all DACA recipients to prepare for deportation.
This is not the Trump administration’s first attack on immigrants, especially immigrants who have received large amounts of criticism from the American public. The Trump administration has also prevented people from majority muslim countries from entering the United States. Supreme court hearings on the cases will be heard next month.
One of the major arguments for the removal of illegal immigrants is their adverse affect on the U.S. economy and, particularly, their effect on White working class Americans’ abilities to find jobs. However, the United States is not currently in economic distress; in fact, the U.S. economy is dependent on immigrant labor and the talents of DACA members to maintain a growing economy. The accusations that immigrants cost native born Americans jobs has been mostly disproven by economic studies. Immigrants tend to do hard manual labor, such as agricultural picking, that White Americans choose not to do. Further, economies are often able to absorb incoming immigrants since their demand for goods cancels out their supply of labor. The loss of immigrants is actually more likely to hurt the economy. Experts are expecting the economy to lose $60 billion in tax revenue and $280 billion in economic growth over the next 10 years.
Aside from the economic reasons to maintain DACA, we should never lose sight of the fact that DACA enrollees are people; they are our friends, our neighbors, our teachers, and our community. By expelling them from the country, we are denying a large group of people the opportunity to be productive, active, and important members of American society. We dehumanize them by labeling them “illegals”, fail to move beyond legalistic restrictions of “citizen”, and use these criteria to justify treating human beings as cheap commodities which can be recalled at any time.
Furthermore, it is important to remember that Dreamers came to this country as children, who cannot be legally held responsible for their actions. Deporting Dreamers is the equivalent of handing down a life sentence to a child. It is holding children accountable for the decisions of adults, decisions that they more than likely had no part of. This mentality is not only backwards, but it is inhumane. No child should have to suffer for the things their parents have done. Beyond that, denying children equal opportunity to a bright future is inherently un-American. It goes against the most sacred parts of the United States’ belief system.
Enforcement of the law is necessary in any society. But when the law actively attacks and degrades certain members of a society, it is the duty of the citizen to denounce that law and protest it with all their available resources. The elimination of DACA and the pending deportation of thousands of young people is an unjust law which punishes people for decisions they did not make, denies these people the opportunity for a brighter future, and is inherently inhumane and un-American. This program should be immediately replaced by Congress and all children of immigrants should be protected by the law.
Additionally, there is real danger in the Trump administration’s continued attacks on immigrants. It not only undermines the United States’ rich immigrant history, but it has the potential to prevent the continued economic, cultural, and technological benefits that the United States gains from immigrants.