The Trump administration has long been fighting to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a program that protects over 700,000 young immigrants from the threat of deportation. This would put those hundreds of thousands of people at risk of being deported, and many are afraid that the U.S. Supreme Court is finally ready to let the administration have its way. The decision to end such an important policy is terribly shortsighted and will affect so many people. DACA should not be snuffed out; if anything, the program should be expanded upon.
Trump’s administration was quick to say that they sympathize with these youths, commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” but they insist that DACA is unconstitutional and that the Obama administration skirted the approval of Congress when the former president issued an executive order to install the program. This argument is incredibly disingenuous. The administration insists that this is grounds to pull the plug on DACA, but they choose to ignore the fact that Trump himself has used executive orders in the past, most famously when he published executive order 13769 to deny the entry to refugees from six majority Muslim countries, and executive order 13767 which intends on further militarizing the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration’s claim that they wish to end DACA for legal reasons is dishonesty at its finest. The decision to end DACA has never been rooted in a desire to preserve the integrity of the Constitution. It is rooted in petulant and virulent racism.
There is no other way of looking at it — attempting to end DACA is outright ethically deplorable. Supporters of stricter immigration laws often express a desire to send immigrants back to what they assume to be the individual’s home country, but many of these DACA recipients have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S., having come to the country when they were children. Trump’s administration would have these people shipped off to foreign nations that they have no prior experience with, some lacking the ability to even communicate in said countries’ native language because they grew up in the U.S.
Looking past moral and ethical arguments, the administration’s desire to end DACA is simply shortsighted. Not only has the administration failed to propose any alternative to the program, ending DACA would result in the possible deportation of hundreds of thousands of people, which would severely affect the U.S. economy. A 2016 national survey yielded results suggesting that DACA recipients make “significant contributions” to the economy by buying homes and cars. Many DACA recipients are entrepreneurs and their businesses significantly stimulate economic growth. The desire to send hundreds of thousands of able-bodied workers and bright minds away to other countries is nothing short of foolish.
As of right now, nobody is entirely certain how the Supreme Court might rule. While the most conservative justices seem to be leaning in Trump’s favor, the Supreme Court has outright refused to take the DACA case for quite some time, and are only now choosing to hear oral arguments. The justices are trying to collect information at the moment, and while it is indeed frightening that the futures of many DACA recipients are currently dangling over a precipice, the decision can still go either way. That being said, if they do rule against DACA, there are few places recipients will be able to turn.
To give credit where credit is due, in terms of the Californian experience, Janet Napolitano issued a statement this past September implying that the UC system does not support Trump’s plan to end DACA, and that the UC system will continue to support the DACA recipients amongst the student body. Furthermore, sanctuary cities may also prove pivotal to protecting past recipients in the event of DACA’s end. Sanctuary cities and counties refuse to take part in the hunting and deportation process, and they can provide free public education to those in need. If DACA does end, perhaps these places can serve as temporary havens for recipients of the program. Still, neither the support of the UC system nor the existence of sanctuary cities are true solutions to the problem.
Of course, polls show that people on both sides of the political spectrum support DACA, and those people must be outspoken about their desire to not see DACA end if they aren’t already. Moreover, if the Supreme Court does indeed rule against the Trump administration’s effort to end DACA, it is important to remember that the fight is far from over. While DACA was well intentioned, it was never meant to be a permanent solution to the immigration issue.
The program must be revised so that it is more accessible. Many recipients struggle to afford the $495 required to renew DACA every two years. Furthermore, many would-be recipients may lack the English fluency needed to fully understand the complex legal jargon that one must be well acquainted with in order to correctly submit the lengthy paperwork required for the program, and many are unable to afford a lawyer who can help them submit said paperwork.
Compounding entrance issues, the program is also far too limited in how it helps those who qualify to receive its protections. While DACA recipients qualify for some college financial aid, they are ineligible for federal financial aid. They are also excluded from many scholarships due to their lack of citizenship, and are likewise prevented from voting in U.S. elections. In light of all of these restrictions, a revised program could provide an accessible path to true citizenship.
There should be no doubt that an individual who was brought to the United States at a young age and spent their entire life in the country is indeed an “American.” Spite and xenophobia fuel the decision to end DACA, and the people must speak out and make it clear that any decision to end the protection of “Dreamers” is immoral. DACA must not come to an end — it should only be improved so that an easier path to citizenship can be created.