September 5, 2017: After weeks and months of hearing about the possibility, AG Jeff Sessions announced the official end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. New applications end immediately, and those already protected by DACA will lose any related benefits within six months.
What does DACA allow for?
According to the Department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DACA was first established as an option on June 15, 2012. “The Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal,” the department’s website states. “They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.” In other words, immigrants who came to the United States as children, with their families, without any knowledge that they were not coming to the country legally, could request time to make their citizenship legal before facing deportation. They could work in the United States without fear, while working toward to get their affairs in order.
Why the apparent need to end DACA?
“Many members of President Trump’s inner circle believe that DACA is unconstitutional,” ThinkProgress states. In his announcement, Sessions indicated that DACA violates immigration laws, that “failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence, and even terrorism.”
Without DACA, what will happen?
Approximately 800,000 people are protected under DACA. About 300,000 of that 800,000 would lose their status, and right to work, by 2018. Some of those 800,000 will be separated from their families through no fault of their own. Many went to college, received their driver’s licenses, and were afforded opportunities “beyond low-wage jobs where no official paperwork is filled,” according to The Washington Post. As we are discussing 800,000 people, these examples only touch the surface.
Are there other solutions in the works?
House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement, in which he addressed the need for a “permanent legislative solution that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.” He indicates that DACA was never meant as a long-term solution to the problem of citizenship status for childhood arrivals.
Is it time to speak up?
While it’s great to hear about the hope of a long-term solution, the fact remains that there are still 800,000 people who arrived in the United States as children, without any knowledge of their citizenship status. Their situation is not, nor has it ever been, their collective fault. And as such, the need to speak up in their defense remains. There’s a reason why we have multiple branches of government, and that’s for the purposes of checks and balances. DACA, and the the establishment of a long-term solution, are not only in the hands of Trump and Sessions — they have to go though Congress. Congress has six months to, as they say, figure it out. And while new applications were stopped, there are still six months to call your Congressman. Tell your elected officials that 800,000 people deserve a chance — whether that chance comes in the form of DACA, or in the form of a new legislative solution.
Disclaimer: The political views presented in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Not Another Millennial Blog.
Photo courtesy of Joe Frazier (Latinx Rally – Defend DACA!) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons