On September 5, the Trump administration stood before the nation and struck fear into the hearts of 800,000 young undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
Our president did not even have the guts to do it himself. Instead, he had Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a known immigration hardliner, announce that the administration would end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and give Congress only six months to revise the policy.
DACA was first implemented under the Obama administration, providing 800,000 young undocumented immigrants temporary residency and protection from deportation. Now, if Congress does not step up to the plate, those unwitting immigrants will be subject to deportation.
Sessions called DACA “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” and said that “failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism.” This is a lie.
By definition, DACA recipients do not pose a threat to public safety or national security. In fact, it is quite the opposite; just to be eligible for the program, they must have a spotless record. It is also important to note that DACA does not give immigrants legal status in the country, only a renewable two-year protection from deportation along with a work permit. And, contrary to a common talking point of the Trump administration, the immigrants do not take jobs from native-born Americans, whose declining employment is mostly due to the advancement of technology and other reasons unrelated to immigration.
As for the constitutionality of the policy, it is well-known that the president has the authority to implement immigration priorities, as many past presidents like Obama have done.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump has repeatedly spewed anti-immigrant, particularly anti-Mexican, rhetoric, which is why this decision does not come as much of a surprise. The reason for ending the policy was the same reason he spewed that rhetoric in the first place: to please his nativist and far-right base.
People on both sides of the aisle, including many who voted for Trump, agree that this call was unjust and inhumane. The majority of the Dreamers were brought to the U.S. before the age of 7, and many do not even speak their native languages. Nine out of 10 DACA recipients are employed and regularly pay taxes. The expulsion of the Dreamers from the U.S. will only harm the U.S. economy.
Another factor in the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA may be President Trump’s desire to erase Obama’s legacy. Since the beginning of his presidential campaign, Trump promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA, which is another policy established by Obama. However, the repeal attempt has twice been rejected, and Trump has had no luck with his quest to rid the administration of Obama’s legacy.
Despite the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA, little action has been taken to truly do so. President Trump has done nothing to direct or give input on the matter, which leaves much uncertainty in the United States. He simply dumped the decision on Congress and gave them six months to figure something out. For somebody who so eagerly promised to eradicate Obama’s legacy, it seems that Trump has made no progress in doing so. In fact, Trump said he would revisit DACA if Congress does not act, injecting even more uncertainty into the situation.
If Trump gives in to Democrats and establishes a policy similar to DACA, his base will retaliate. If he completely ends DACA, two major national polls show that the majority of the country will not support that move.