Review of the "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) program:
"DACA" is a program created by the Obama administration during mid-2012, to protect some undocumented youths who were illegally brought into the United States by their parents, who have grown up in the U.S., and who remain with no legal status in the country. They are often referred to as "DREAMers." DACA is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It allows some of them to apply for temporary relief from the threat of deportation for a period of two years. They have been able to repeatedly request renewals of their status every two years. The Homeland Security's web site defines the eligibility requirements.
According to the Voice of America, most DACA individuals come from Mexico, followed by Guatemala, El Salvador, South Korea, Honduras, and China. The average age of a DACA recipient when she or he arrived in the U.S. was 6.5 years -- approximately the age of a typical public school student entering Grade 1 . 2
By late summer in 2017, nearly 788,000 individuals had obtained protection under DACA. 3 (Some sources say that there are more than 800,000.) About one in four is living in California.
Amanda Marcotte, writing for Salon, said:
"More than 90 percent of DACA recipients have jobs, which pay an average of $17.46 an hour. 72 percent are pursuing some form of higher education." 4
President Obama was faced with a Congress that was unable to pass legislation on DREAMers. And so, he had implemented the program by an executive order. 3 This means that it can be terminated or changed at any time by a subsequent presidental executive order. David Abraham, professor of immigration and citizenship law at the University of Miami School of Law has said:
"DACA is not legislation, it's executive action and the president could rightfully abandon it altogether, or piece by piece." 5
Webmaster's comments (2): [bias alert]
I assume that when Professor Abraham used the word "rightfully" here, he meant "legally" or "in accordance with the Constitution." Whether it would be morally "right" to terminate DACA is, to me, a very different question.
The reason why former President Obama resorted to the executive order was that Congress had been trying to pass a DACA-like law for most or all of the first decade of this century. The House and Senate were never able to agree on the wording for such a bill.
In late 2016, president-elect Trump promised, in an act of unusual cruelty, to rescind the DACA executive order as soon as he took office. This would have left almost a million DACA youths and adults suddenly without protection from deportation. In many cases, the United States is the only country they have known. Many regard themselves as Americans, even though they have no legal status in the country. Many only speak English and cannot speak in the language of the country where they were born.
However, during his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump once said:
"We love the DREAMers. We love everybody."
So, as with so many other of his policies, his precise stand on DREAMers was unknown.
Multiple Republican-led states had threatened the president with a lawsuit over DACA:
Back in June, ten Attorneys General from Texas and nine other Republican-led states issued President Trump an ultimatum. They consider the DACA program illegal because it was implemented by an executive order of President Obama, and not by Congress. They threatened legal action if he does not end the program on or before 2017-SEP-05. 6,3 However, Attorney General of Tennessee, Herbert Slatery III (R-TN), said on SEP-03 that his state would no longer pursue a lawsuit. This left a total of nine Republican Attorneys General threatening the President who is also Republican -- an unusual situation.
Kamal Essaheb, director of policy and advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center, said:
"Everyone who has seen DACA ... should really be appalled by this legal low blow on the part of Texas. It's nothing sort of shameful, it's nothing short of repugnant." 7
Although politicians have been stressing the unconstitutionality of DACA, some commentators have been pointing to what might be the true reason for much of the opposition to DACA: RACISM. The vast majority of the children and young adults protected by the program are from Mexico, Central and South America or Asia. Thus, they could not pass as Caucasian. Almost every person who is protected by DACA -- and who could be expelled from the country if DACA were terminated, -- would increase the percentage of whites in the U.S. by their absence. To white supremacists and most other racists, this would be a positive development.
Amanda Marcotte, writing for Salon, said:
"Despite all his repeated invocations of the 'rule of law,' Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions ... could not conceal during his Tuesday’s press conference that the Trump administration’s winding down of DACA ... is about racial bigotry. Sessions’ entire speech was shot through with falsehoods and distortions, each one playing directly off ugly racist stereotypes and assumptions that have nothing to do with the facts on hand. ... he does not see DACA recipients ... as real people so much as racist stereotypes. ... . Throughout his career, his rhetoric has suggested he simply wants white people to [remain] ... the dominant group in America, and sees immigration as a threat to that. ..."
DACA recipients are none of the thing Sessions suggested they are: They are not criminal, not unassimilated, and not undeserving of their jobs. The only reason to believe otherwise is bigotry. 4
In reality, a small percentage of young people protected by DACA have been convicted of a misdemeanor -- a minor crime. However, being convicted of a felony terminates a person's protection under DACA, and makes them unable to apply.
The Cato Institute studied the incarceration rate of DREAMers. They found that:
"There is a vast body of empirical literature showing that legal and illegal immigrants do not increase local crime rates, are less likely to commit crimes than their native-born peers, and are less likely to be incarcerated than are native-born Americans." 15
Perhaps a second reason why President Trump is so opposed to DACA is that most children and youth in the program will eventually become U.S. citizens. Most would probably vote for the Democratic Party.
2017-SEP: President Trump to reveal his position on DACA:
By early 2017-SEP, most political commentators speculated that President Trump was going to issue a new executive order on SEP-05 that would cancel the DACA program, effective six-months in the future, during early 2018-MAR. That would allow Congress six months to pass a new law to extend DACA, which Trump might be willing to sign into law. Unfortunately, so far during his presidency, Congress has shown itself relatively powerless to pass significant legislation on any topic.
President Trump confirmed that he was going to make a statement on DACA on 2017-SEP-05. That might have provided DREAMers with time to go undercover if he decides to suddenly abolish the program. 6
On SEP-01, more than 200 persons gathered outside the Los Angeles federal office building, asking that the DACA program be continued. They chanted:
"If they don't let us dream, we won't let them sleep," and
"The people united will never be divided." 8
Many clergy, and the CEOs of Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, Starbucks, etc. support DACA. They urged the president to allow the program to continue. 8
According to an NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, 64% of U.S. adults support the DACA program in its original form. 9
Meanwhile, officials in New York and Washington states have indicated that they will challenge Trump's decision in court if he disbands DACA. Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) said:
"We should not and cannot sit on the sidelines and watch the lives of these young people ruined. We have both a legal and moral obligation to make sure that the laws are faithfully executed without discrimination or animus." 2
An editorial on the Bloomberg web site said:
"...there is no good reason to deny Dreamers’ participation in American life, and to deny Americans the benefits of Dreamers’ participation in the economy. In a world of complicated trade-offs, easing the path of Dreamers into education, employment and citizenship is an easy call. Trump should keep the promise to Dreamers. And Congress should pass the [new] Dream Act of 2017 [S.1615] to secure it." 9,10
This bill to create a Dream Act had been introduced to the 115th Congress by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on 2017-JUL-20. It has been read twice and is currently stalled before the Senate's Committee on the Judiciary. 10
The country has a major investment involved in the medical care and education of DREAMers. Almost all are employed and are contributing to the economy or in university. It would be a major financial loss to the U.S. if they were not allowed to stay.
"Sottovoice," a reader of the Daily Kos article, posted their personal comment:
"While it's good to know that a solid majority of Americans don't support the hatefulness of our president, unfortunately he cares nothing for the opinions of the public, or the pain and suffering his actions cause real human beings. He makes his decisions based upon jealousy and burning hatred of Obama, and his habit of spitefulness. As long as the GOP 'leaders' continue to abdicate their moral responsibility, we can expect more cruel, unnecessary, punishing decisions." 9
We try to add quotes to our articles representing both sides to each argument. However, in the Daily Kos article, all 15 readers' comments were anti-Trump.
2017-SEP-05: Reactions to President Trump's expected decision to terminate the DACA program:
Anticipating an announcement by the Trump administrations, about 250 pro-DACA protestors -- shown in the photograph above -- marched from the White House, to the Department of Justice, and finally to the U.S. Immigration and Enforcement Office. They chanted slogans like:
Up, up with education; down, down with deportation.
Shame on you, Donald Trump. 1
One DACA participant, Eliseo Magos, 23, who was born in Mexico, carried a bundle of balloons, He said: "We're not going to let him take DACA from us." 1
Another, Carlos Esteban Arellano, 31, who was also born in Mexico, said that it was his hope that the demonstration would help people:
"... see the face of DACA. This is my home. My home is not the place I was born. I hope they hear our voice.”
Former president Barack Obama said:
"Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.
But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America -- kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license. ..."
"To target these young people is wrong -- because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak? ..."
"... now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.
Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.
What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union." 11
President Trump issued a statement on SEP-05. He criticized former President Obama for issuing the executive order that created DACA when Congress had debated and rejected a similar plan on multiple occasions. His statement said, in part:
"Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class, and economic fairness for all Americans.
Therefore, in the best interests of our country, and in keeping with the obligations of my office, the Department of Homeland Security will begin an orderly transition and wind-down of DACA, one that provides minimum disruption. While new applications for work permits will not be accepted, all existing work permits will be honored until their date of expiration up to two full years from today. Furthermore, applications already in the pipeline will be processed, as will renewal applications for those facing near-term expiration. This is a gradual process, not a sudden phase out. Permits will not begin to expire for another six months, and will remain active for up to 24 months. Thus, in effect, I am not going to just cut DACA off, but rather provide a window of opportunity for Congress to finally act." 12
President Trump also tweeted:
"Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue! 13
So, the ball is in Congress' court at a time when the House and Senate is badly fractured, both between Democrats and Republicans and within each party.
Michelle Mark, writing for Business Insider, said:
"US Citizenship and Immigration Services said DACA recipients whose permits expire before March 5, 2018, would be allowed to apply for renewal. They must do so before October 5, 2017, however." 14
Some related essays on this web site about President Trump that may interest you:
Part 1: Inauguration. Executive order to implement anti-Muslim ban. Court case. Airport demonstrations. Mosque burned to the ground.
Part 2: Reactions of politicians outside the U.S. Mass murder at a Canadian mosque.
Part 3: Synagogue attacked in Chicago. NYC subway train vandalized. Would Jesus approve of the Executive Order?
Part 4: What would Jesus Do about Muslim refugees?
Part 5: Reactions to President Trump's executive order by Arianna Huffington, a Christian talk show, The Harvard University Law School Review, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- a diverse group.
Part 6: More Anti-religious Talk And Violence, 2017-FEB-09 to 19. President's approval rating sinks.
Part 7: Bomb Threats at Community Centers. Reaction by some Christian denominations and leaders to Trump's executive order.
Part 8: Reactions by religious leaders to President
Trump's 1st Muslim country ban.
Trump issues second Muslim ban.
Part 9: Bomb Threats To U.S. Jewish Community Centers Continue; Ignored By The Trump Admin.
Part 10: Bomb threats extend to Jewish Community Centers in Canada. Federal court in Hawaii stops President Trump's second Muslim country ban.
Part 11: Federal Courts stop President Trump's second Muslim country ban (Cont'd).
Part 12: Courts stop 2nd Muslim country ban (Concl.). Public assessment of the President. Earth Day 2017.
Part 13: Is Pres. Trump successfully changing Washington? More federal court rulings on his Muslim travel ban. His approval/disapproval ratings among the public.
Part 14: Supreme Court Accepts Muslim Ban Appeal. President Trump Visits Poland. The Blaze's poll.
Part 15: The Nazi/alt-right/white nationalists rally in Charlottesville, VA and its impacts (Being written).
Part 18: Worst Enemy or Best Advocate? An essay donated by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Lauren Rosenblatt, "Protesters march in Washington to show support for DACA," Los Angeles Times, 2017-SEP-05, at: http://www.latimes.com/ (The LA Times permits reuse of this image by other web sites, Facebook, etc.)