On September 5, President Donald Trump called for an end to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program originally implemented by former President Barack Obama. DACA allowed for eligible undocumented individuals to be granted work authorization, while also preventing their deportation. Said individuals were those who arrived in the US before their 16th birthday and were under the age of 31 as of June 15th, 2012.
As of now DACA is operating completely normally, the only difference being that the program will no longer accept renewal applications after October 5. This point in time is a transition period for those under DACA, also heavily depending on whether a replacement program is implemented.
Despite talks of said replacement program, there are many groups and individuals that fervently oppose DACA’s end. Congressmen Adriano Espaillat of New York and Ruben Kihuen of Nevada, who both arrived in America as undocumented immigrants, are among them. They are joined by the Women’s March, who stated, through Twitter, that they would make President Trump’s life “impossible” should he proceed with ending the program.
Work authorization will be valid until its expiration date, even if that date is past March 5, 2018, when the program will officially end. It is also important to note that DACA is completely separate from the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, the bill which allows for undocumented students to receive financial aid and scholarships. While this means that current undocumented students can continue their education, once their DACA permit expires, their position as residents of this country is no longer secure.
Franco Iglesias, a second-year physics major at UCR, was in middle school when DACA was first implemented in 2012. The program, as he puts it, “gave me the chance to be the citizen I was told to be growing up in school.” Not only did DACA allow for him to get his first job, but it also allowed for him to acquire a driver’s license. As of now, Iglesias’s immigration status remains unchanged, but if things remain as they stand and there is no new program implemented, he does not have many options; since DACA only prevented an individual’s deportation without granting any kind of resident status. “DACA left us (undocumented individuals) in a limbo, we weren’t able to apply for citizenship. So now, if nothing is done, I won’t be able to legally work or drive.” According to Iglesias, the solution isn’t another program like DACA, but a clear path to citizenship for undocumented students and workers. He believes that congress will pass such a program to the benefit of those currently under DACA.
Iglesias’ case is not an isolated incident, as 800,000 workers and students across the nation who rely on DACA find themselves in similar situations.
The president urged congress to pass a replacement bill before March 5, 2018. As of now, both Democrats and Republicans seem to be cooperating on the issue.