Last week, Mitt Romney made big news by finally announcing what he would do about President Obama’s deferred action policy: while he claims he would recognize the deferred action granted to DREAMers during Obama’s tenure, he would end the program upon taking office, leaving DREAMers who do not receive their deferrals by January 20th, 2013 effectively cut off from that avenue of protection.
As we’ve written before, this is big news because the deferred action program has only just begun—some 80,000 have already applied, but only 29 DREAMers have received their deferred action status. Projected generously, this would mean maybe 100,000 cases of deferred action granted before next inauguration day—a mere fraction of the 1.4 million believed to be eligible. As Cesar Vargas, a DREAMer and the Government Affairs Managing Director of the DRM Capitol Group wrote in The Hill last week, “This means that Romney would only honor the protection of that small group, while relegating the rest back to the shadows who have not applied, because many are still collecting the necessary documents or are still saving up to pay the fee.”
According to Cesar, Romney’s latest announcement is in line with all of Romney’s other extremist positions on immigration: promising to veto the DREAM Act, supporting self-deportation, and believing that Arizona’s SB 1070 is a “model” for the nation. It doesn’t matter that Romney keeps promising that he won’t “round up” and deport anyone—his espousal of self-deportation means that his policies will make life so miserable for immigrants that they’ll be forced to just go away. As Cesar writes:
A President Romney would not deport anyone but would use every opportunity to make life difficult for undocumented youth, including making college and dreams unattainable. The worry would exacerbate that he would even would use information collected through the DACA program to track young people and their families.
Romney also keeps promising that he’ll replace Obama’s deferred action program with a “permanent solution” to immigration of his own. What happens when Romney finds out this solution is harder to get through Congress than he thought? Cesar says that Romney’s “intention to work with Congress on immigration in his first year is laudable but naïve at best.” And if a President Romney is unable to pass a bill, will he allow young, aspiring Americans who have never known any other home but the US to continue being deported? Or will he realize that—in the absence of the DREAM Act or comprehensive immigration reform—the deferred action program must be allowed to continue? Cesar concludes:
DACA is a temporary measure that needs to be continued to ensure that talent is not wasted until legislation is passed. Indeed, if the DREAM Act is passed, the youth and their improved access to college and better jobs would add $329 billion and 1.4 million jobs to the nation’s economy over two decades. Ultimately, the DREAM Act and modernizing our immigration system must be a priority for the next president if he is serious in creating jobs and keeping mix-status families together.