On Tuesday, Sept. 5, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Donald Trump announced that they will be moving to phase out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In his speech, Jeff Sessions suggested that those under DACA were lawbreakers and that were adversely affecting the employment and wages of U.S. born citizens. He stated that, “Failure to enforce [immigration] laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.” According to the Cato Institute, this decision is set to cost $60 billion in lost tax revenue and a reduction in economic growth of $280 billion over the next decade.
DACA was put in place by President Obama back in 2012. The program offers protection for an estimated 800,000 people. Let us be clear about what DACA is: it is a renewable two-year deferred action from deportation and a work permit. It is not a pathway to citizenship.
DACA applicants must pass a rigorous test. They must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16 and have lived here since 2012. They must be enrolled in or have completed high school. Their criminal record must be clean and they must pose no known threat to national security. Applicants pay $465 in order to apply for DACA status. Payment does not guarantee they’ll get DACA status. This cost does not include the legal fees that stem from needing a lawyer to help fill out the I-765 form.
Back in March 2017, Ursinus joined a coalition of 500 other colleges and universities in penning a letter to the U.S. President, urging him to continue to allow DACA recipients to pursue a higher education and to protect them from deportation.
Ursinus President Brock Blomberg has openly expressed his support for those under the DACA Program before, and reiterated his support through an email sent to campus promptly after Session’s announcement.
Blomberg wrote, “I believe in principle that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is fully consistent with the college’s values and mission. I hope that Congress will work with the Executive Branch to bring statutory clarity to this important issue in a timely manner.”
Other Ursinus groups to have come out in support of DACA are the United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) and the Bonner Leaders.
USAS stated in an email sent to campus, “Though those of us writing are not ourselves participants of DACA, or ‘Dreamers,’ we stand by and will defend the right to be here for those who are. They are our classmates, neighbors, and friends.”
The Bonner Leaders and Melrose Fellows similarly wrote, “We wish to express support for any DACA students in our community as well as DACA recipients throughout the country.”
Most of these “Dreamers” have never lived in their country of origin. They grew up in the United States and only really know this country. Deporting them will ruin countless lives and families and all because they weren’t born in an American hospital. These people depend on DACA, not just to continue studying in hope of a better career, but also just to continue living. Without the work permit that DACA offers them, they are unable to work. They won’t be able to apply for citizenship, to study, to pay rent or to eat.
Though it is good that people want to defend the “Dreamers” because they are attending school and are promoting economic growth, using only this fact as a reason to not deport them is not enough. Out of decency, we should strive to understand the horrors of deporting people. Uprooting them from the life they have established, simply because they weren’t born here, is inhumane. Many grew up here; they know nowhere else.
Citing the correct process for immigration is a weak argument against DACA, since people can be here for over 10 years without being a U.S. resident. Anyone that has actually had to go through the immigration process, or that is currently going through it, can tell you that it is a long and costly procedure with no definite wait time.
Sessions claimed that DACA-eligible individuals were hurting the wages and employment opportunities of U.S. citizens. If DACA recipients have to work twice as hard as American citizens to find and maintain a job while not having the full benefits and advantages citizens do, the blame should not be on the immigrants.
It is wrong to deport anyone and there is no such thing as an “illegal alien.” These terms are dehumanizing to people who are coming here in search of a better life. DACA is not perfect, but it gave 800,000 people peace of mind in two-year intervals. Repealing it is one of the vilest things Donald Trump has done since taking office. No one should be complacent with this decision or the rhetoric he and Sessions are using to smear hardworking immigrants.