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Rescinding deferred action, the program that helps 800,000 young immigrants, is one of the cruelest, most significant things Trump has done as president
Today, Donald Trump (via Attorney General Jeff Sessions) announced that he’ll be phasing out the deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) program, a five-year-old executive order that was announced by President Obama in 2012. This is huge — it’s one of the cruelest and most consequential things Trump has done so far in his presidency, and it’s going to radically upend the lives of 800,000 young people who depend on DACA and haven’t done anything wrong.
DACA has been rescinded, and the program will be gone completely within six months.
What this means: The youngest Dreamers (those who have not already aged into the program) will be some of the most vulnerable, and among the first who may be in danger of deportation. Those whose DACA ends after March 5, 2018 will be next in danger. Starting March 6, 2018, an estimated 1,000 Dreamers will lose status every single day. If Congress does not act on the Dream Act, Dreamers will have two years at most to get their lives together before possibly facing deportation.
Advocates and allies need to make it clear that going after DACA was the worst mistake Donald Trump has ever made. This involves:
Attending a rally near you. Find one here. We need to let everyone know that what happened is absolutely unacceptable. That means showing the world that we are #hereToStay and not going away
Telling members of Congress to support the Dream Act. Contact them here. DACA is being phased out for six months, but the program as we know it is not coming back. After March 2018, protection for Dreamers will lie with legislation like the Dream Act (the legislative version of DACA with the added benefit of a path to citizenship). Contact your member of Congress and ask them to support the Dream Act today.
A Dreamer is an undocumented immigrant who came to the US as a child, i.e. before they were 16. They grew up in the United States, are steeped in American culture, attended K-12 schools here, are integrated in their communities, and are American in all but paperwork. Many Dreamers have stories about how they didn’t even know they were undocumented until they tried applying for a driver’s license or submitting a FAFSA form for college.
DACA is a program which has to date helped almost 800,000 Dreamers. To be eligible for DACA, a Dreamer must be enrolled in school or working, have come to the US before age 16, passed a background check, and paid a fee. DACA by itself only does two things: 1) provides Dreamers protection from deportation, and 2) provides Dreamers with work permits. That’s it. But given that protection and the ability to legally work, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers have joined the workforce, gained higher-paying jobs, been able to afford college, been allowed to legally drive, bought homes, started families, and much more.
Unfortunately, DACA did not provide a path to legal status. Some Dreamers who had DACA have been able to gain legal status through other means — for example, through marrying a US citizen. But the 800,000 Dreamers who currently have DACA, for the most part, remain undocumented.
That’s why DACA is so important. Now that Trump has rescinded DACA, everything that Dreamers have built in the last five years is at risk. Dreamers may lose their jobs, their homes, and be deported from the only country they’ve ever known. This would be unbelievably cruel — and allowing that to happen is unacceptable.
DACA is such a sympathetic, common-sense program that even the rabidly anti-immigrant Trump has repeatedly said that he wasn’t sure what he’d do with the program. He said that DACA is a “very, very difficult subject” and that he was going to “deal with DACA with heart.”
Advocates didn’t take his sentiments very seriously considering that his Administration is staffed with right-wing anti-immigrant extremists like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and senior advisers Steve Bannon (now out of the White House) and Stephen Miller. DACA, however, did continue in the Trump Administration for longer than many advocates expected.
Ultimately, the Sessions/Bannon/Miller wing of the White House was handed an assist from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and AGs from nine other states. Paxton has apparently been so impatient waiting for Trump to end DACA that he decided to issue an ultimatum: Trump must rescind DACA by September 5, 2017, or face a lawsuit from Paxton and the other AGs.
DACA has wide support among Republicans — a number of Republicans in Congress have called on Trump to protect DACA, while others have signed onto legislation that would protect Dreamers from deportation. Speaker Paul Ryan has expressed support for Dreamers, and articles have highlighted Republicans’ opposition to putting Dreamers in danger of deportation. Even Republicans generally considered hardliners on immigration — for example, Florida Gov. Rick Scott — have expressed support for DACA.
In addition, DACA has a wide, wide base of supporters. Recently, 1,850 leaders around the country — from faith leaders to local elected officials to members of Congress to advocacy leaders to sheriffs and police chiefs — signed a letter urging Trump to keep DACA. Dozens of Congressional Democrats and hundreds of business leaders have asked Trump to protect the program.
A report from the Center for American Progress demonstrates how importance DACA has been in the lives of Dreamers. Since DACA was implemented:
As the recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, made clear, Donald Trump has alarming sympathy for racists, extremists, and white nationalists. Ending DACA is part of the white nationalist agenda. It’s something that extreme racists have wanted Trump to do for a long time — and they were frustrated when months of his presidency went by without Trump ending DACA.
“1/21/17 was the time to end” DACA, Ann Coulter recently tweeted.
“I knew [Trump] was going to sell us out on some things,” Mark Krikorian, executive director of the hate group Center for Immigration Studies, told the Atlantic. “I just didn’t think DACA was going to be what he sells us out on.”
“Good news about DACA,” white nationalist Richard Spencer tweeted in July about an article that wanted to use ending DACA as a bargaining chip for harsher immigration policies.
These same white nationalists and xenophobes are already celebrating the end of DACA. With today’s decision, Trump has once again sided with the ugly anti-immigrant and anti-minority fringe.