A mark of a great nation lies in the treatment of its most vulnerable. The United States exercises this value in the protection of its children. Last week, President Trump threatened the lives of nearly one million children, all legal residents of the United States. The action came with his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in the next six months.
This week, we take action in support of DACA because we believe that to eliminate DACA is to directly punish children for factors out of their control.
What is DACA?
In 2012, President Obama established DACA through Executive Action. DACA allows roughly 800,000 young people (known as Dreamers) who were brought to the United States illegally before the age of 16 to remain and work in the country. DACA recognizes that children should not be deported for the decision of their parents to enter the country illegally.
According to the US Immigration Center, DACA applicants must meet these requirements:
It is important to note that DACA only protects those with clean criminal records, and that it applies only to recipients who have received a significant amount of education. As a result, 95% of DACA recipients are employed or in school, leading to improved wages on average and better living conditions.
Why should you care?
Eliminating DACA is unjust in that it would force hundreds of thousands of Young Americans to leave the United States, many of whom have lived here for most of their lives. A large proportion of Dreamers speak only English; they are American in almost every definition of the word. If they were deported, they would be strangers in their native lands.
Furthermore, by becoming a part of the program, DACA recipients identified themselves as “illegal” at the time of their arrival. They acted in good faith, acknowledging their status in the United States and putting trust in a government which promised to protect them. US immigration officials now know the whereabouts of each of these people, and could use it to heartlessly deport law-abiding residents if DACA is not protected.
Furthermore, we must look to serve the best interests of our country as a whole. Economists firmly assert that DACA boosts our economy. According to Fortune Magazine, “An average of 30,000 workers could lose their jobs every month if DACA were repealed or permit renewals were held up.”
Additionally, Dreamers pay taxes, but do not receive benefits. They therefore support services such as Medicare and Social Security without reaping the rewards. According to Fortune, the ”loss of those workers could cost the country $460.3 billion in economic output over the next decade, with Medicare and Social Security contributions dropping by $24.6 billion.”
An end to DACA threatens to stunt economic growth. More importantly, it breaks the pledge we made to these Dreamers when promising legal protection.
What’s will to happen to DACA now?
According to Trump, DACA will be phased out beginning in 6 months if Congress is unable to establish a “more permanent solution” by this time.
What’s discouraging is that Congress has been trying to pass a comprehensive and permanent solution to this issue for over a decade without success. Between Trump’s decision and Congress’s lack of momentum, we must act with urgency on DACA.
Here’s where DACA stands in Congress:
- DACA is not a Democrat or Republican issue; representatives on both sides of the aisle are in support of establishing permanent solutions for Dreamers. Even those who are conservative on immigration policy have voiced concern for the elimination of DACA. For example, Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoman Republican stated “It is right for there to be consequences for those who intentionally entered this country illegally. However, we as Americans do not hold children legally accountable for the actions of their parents.” This view is shared by Orrin Hatch, a senator who has been a loyal supporter of Trump. Hatch asserted that “Like the president, I’ve long advocated for tougher enforcement of our existing immigration laws. But we also need a workable, permanent solution for individuals who entered our country unlawfully as children through no fault of their own.”
- There are currently several major bills in Congress with various approaches to DACA. They include:
- The Dream Act: This act permits those who arrived under the age of 18 to receive “conditional permanent residency,” and then apply for a green card. It was introduced by members of both parties, but lacks a substantial amount of conservative support.
- The Recognizing America’s Children Act: This narrows the scope of The Dream Act to people who arrived under the age of 16 and who have lived in the United States for more than 5 years.
- The Bridge Act: Ensures the protection of DACA recipients for the next 3 years in order to buy Congress more time.
We hope that you will join us in fighting for America’s most vulnerable. It is in the interest of both DACA recipients and our country as a whole to ensure that children are not punished for uncontrollable conditions.
If you agree that it is unjust to uproot the lives of youth for the decisions of their parents, please look below for actions you can take.
If you disagree with our stance on this, please leave us a comment. We are here to encourage discussion, and would love to feature alternative views.
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