On September 5, 2017, President Donald J. Trump announced his plan to end DACA. What followed was a media storm of anger and frustration from one side, approval and praise from the other. However, for those who’ve relied on DACA to stay in the United States legally, it only created more uncertainty. Here’s what you should know:
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created through executive action in 2012 under the Obama administration. It aimed to temporarily protect young people brought to the United States illegally by their parents from deportation, and give them the freedom to live, work, and study in America.
To qualify for the program, applicants had to be under 31 years of age when the program began and prove:
- Continuous residency in the United States since June 15, 2007,
- That they arrived in the United States before turning 16 years old,
- No previous criminal record,
- Current enrollment in high school or college, or
- Service in the US military.
According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, 800,000+ people, known as DREAMers, have been granted DACA’s protections. Approximately 42,000 of those recipients live in New York. This is the third largest concentration of DREAMers behind California (222,795 recipients) and Texas (124,300 recipients).
According to the Department of Homeland Security, President Trump’s move to end DACA will not happen overnight. Rather, the program is set to phase out over a period of six months. Attorney General Jeff Sessions claims this is ample time for Congress to act “should it so choose”.
Since the President’s announcement, new plans for immigration reform have been introduced by members of Congress. One such proposal is called the Succeed Act. It is a Republican measure to protect some of DACA’s beneficiaries from deportation and offer them a pathway to citizenship. Despite garnering bipartisan support, some argue that the Succeed Act doesn’t go far enough. Thus, the future for DREAMers still remains uncertain.
Congress, however, is not the only one taking action. In early September, New York joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in a federal lawsuit against President Trump’s plan to end DACA. In a statement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “Immigration is the lifeblood of New York State. The Trump administration’s decision to end DACA is cruel, inhumane, and devastating to the 42,000 New Yorkers who have been able to come out of the shadows and live a full life as a result of the program.”
A study conducted by the Center for American Progress supports this claim. They found that, for every day that DACA renewals are on hold, more than 1400 recipients would lose their ability to work and could lose their jobs. The impact of repealing DACA, however, has consequences far beyond individual DREAMers. Citing the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, Schneiderman said DREAMers in New York pay $140 million in state and local taxes. Nationwide, a conservative estimate by the CATO Institute suggests our economy could lose $280 billion if those who formerly qualified for the program are deported. To make matters worse, that number does not include the astronomical costs of the deportations themselves. Therefore, in addition to hurting individual DREAMers, ending DACA could do more harm than good to the American economy.
Admittedly, DACA isn’t perfect. However, it is more clear now than ever that this country deserves a more permanent and bipartisan solution that results in just and humane immigration reform. We don’t need the government to build a different program or a complex new system. We need them to systematically remove unnecessary barriers to the American Dream and those who seek it.