Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Dream Killers: Trump and Company End DACA In America


“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?”

--President Barack Obama

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) was created in 2012 by the Obama administration after several failed attempts in Congress to pass a law to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children. President Obama said DREAMers – undocumented immigrants brought to America as children – didn't make the decision to enter the U.S. illegally and shouldn't be punished as a result.

DACA allows two-year stays for certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday who have attended school or joined the military and have not committed any serious crimes.

In order to qualify for DACA, applicants under the age of 30 submit personal information to the Department of Homeland Security. They must go through an FBI background check and have a clean criminal background, and either be in school, recently graduated or have been honorably discharged from the military.

The immigrants receive a renewable two-year period of deportation protections and eligibility for a work permit. Some enrollees are currently on their third term. DACA currently protects nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants from deportation.

(Editors. “What is DACA and who does it protect?” USA TODAY. September 01, 2017.)

Trump Ends DACA

During his campaign, President Trump slammed the program, saying shielding immigrants brought to the United States illegally when they were children from deportation was illegal "amnesty."

Now, a threat from Texas and several other states to sue the administration if it did not end DACA evidently forced President Trump to make a decision. Several senior aides, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who declared the Justice Department would be unable to defend the program in court, lobbied the president to end DACA.

Others, including Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the former DHS secretary, cautioned that terminating the program would cause chaos for young immigrants who enjoy broad popular support. 

Despite warnings, the Trump administration announced it will end DACA. "I'm here today (September 5, 2017) to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded," Sessions announced, calling the program unconstitutional and criticizing it as "unilateral executive amnesty."

No new applications for the program will be accepted, Sessions said. The administration will allow DACA recipients with a work permit set to expire before March 5, 2018, the opportunity to apply for a two-year renewal.

The administration is giving Congress six months to come up with a fix before the federal government officially stops renewing permits for current DACA recipients.


What Ending DACA Does

In a lengthy post on his Facebook page, Obama called Trump’s move “cruel” and said it represented a “political decision” to a “moral question.”

"Ultimately," Obama wrote, “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.”

“Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us,” Obama said.

(Jacqueline Thomsen. “Obama calls Trump's DACA decision cruel, self-defeating and wrong. The Hill. September 05, 2017.)

In a tweet, former vice president Joe Biden wrote: “Brought by parents, these children had no choice in coming here. Now they’ll be sent to countries they’ve never known. Cruel. Not America.”

Each Dreamer is an individual first, not a member of a bloc of people. Accusatory, xenophobic people want to convince other Americas that these people are here as illegals to take jobs away from citizens and to wreak havoc. Trump, himself, made these inflammatory remarks during his non-scripted presidential announcement speech:

“When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems. They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Trump's stereotype of immigrants is a work of socio-political grandstanding, one of his favorite divisive rally themes promoting incompatibility and groundless blame. He tries to convince Americans that this view is realistic; however, it conveys a shameless ignorance of the immigration system.

DACA does not provide amnesty to illegal immigrants. Instead, it offers a path forward for young people put into a difficult position by their parents – the path is rigorous and demands responsibility. It provides defined incentives for those who aim to get right with the law and contribute to our country.

Those who do take advantage of DACA contribute to America in two ways:

* By keeping our country safer and

* By making our economy stronger. Every additional pair of boots and every additional pupil in a college classroom improves America’s position in the world – a fact agreed on by experts and leaders in both parties.

A progressive advocacy group, Center for American Progress, and, a pro-DACA group founded by tech leaders including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, estimate the United States could lose up to 700,000 jobs with the loss of DACA.

In fact, these immigrants contribute greatly to the economy. The Center for American Progress (CAP) released a study in 2012 which estimated the economic benefit of DACA.

The study maintains that this group of Dreamers would contribute $329 billion to the American economy by 2030 under DACA. The prediction holds that an estimated 2.1 million young people would gain access to higher education, and that their ability to work legally would lead to increased spending from the population.

"This spending ripples through the economy, supporting another $181 billion in induced economic impact, the creation of 1.4 million jobs, and more than $10 billion in increased revenue," the study concludes.

CAP's study wasn't the first to try to estimate the economic benefits of passing the DACA. Another study conducted by Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda at UCLA in 2010 concluded that Dreamers could contribute up to $3.6 trillion to the U.S. economy in the next 40 years, almost $90 billion a year and .6% of the annual U.S. GDP.

(Cristina Costantini. Study: Dreamers Could Add $329 Billion to Economy. ABC News. October 12, 2012.)


The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program has also provided a lot of mental stability for those living in fear of deportation. According to a study by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, the implementation of DACA was associated with a 50 percent drop nationwide in the measured risk of clinical depression among Latinos eligible for the program.

“Altering access to economic opportunities among undocumented immigrants and changing the prospects of deportation have large consequences for mental health,” said Atheendar Venkataramani, a physician at Harvard Medical School, who was one of the lead authors of the study.

(Atheendar S. Venkataramani, Sachin J. Shah, Rourke O’Brien, Ichiro Kawachi, Alexander C. Tsai. “Health consequences of the US Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration programme: a quasi-experimental study.” The Lancet Public Health, March 14, 2017.)

I agree with President Obama: Targeting the Dreamers is wrong. It is wrong for President Trump; it is wrong for Congress; and it is wrong for the nation. To extinguish the dreams of those in America who serve our country with industry and initiative goes against everything our concepts of freedom and justice entail. There can be no dreamers in a land of distrust, only dream killers.

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