Since the inception of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, some 800,000 young people have presented themselves to the U.S. government as undocumented immigrants and been given the legal right to live and work in this nation. These 800,000 young people, who were brought here as children, were given the chance to live the American Dream and pursue their own happiness. Now, 800,000 young people are poised to have their hopes and dreams shattered by an elected official who is intent on using children as pawns in his political game.
Donald Trump recently announced that he intends to repeal the DACA program if Congress cannot pass a replacement in the next six months. Citing displacement of American workers, wage stagnation and citizen “victimization,” President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions called for the the rescission of the program and ultimate deportation of almost 1 million “DREAMers” as they have come to be known. The issue here is that the justifications for the termination of the policy are, as Mr. Trump would say, “fake news.”
To be eligible to apply for the program, applicants must
- have entered the U.S. illegally prior to their 16th birthday
- have been living continuously in the U.S. since 2007
- have no major criminal charges
- have completed, or be currently enrolled in, high school (or GED) or be honorably discharged from the Armed Forces.
In short, those applying for the right to live and work in the only country most have ever known are educated children or military veterans that pose no discernible criminal threat. However, the fact that DREAMers are wholesome people doesn’t seem to matter to some when compared to the alleged effect they have on native-born Americans. Yet even that fails to match up with the facts.
According to the Associated Press, the majority of economists reject the notion that awarding undocumented people work permits usurps jobs from natural-born citizens, and some claim that it actually boosts the U.S. economy. As for potential criminal activity, FactCheck.org reports that immigrants do not commit crimes at any higher rates than U.S. citizens.
Even in spite of this, those opposing the program say it is unfair for those waiting in line, legally, for their chance at citizenship. Ironically, this argument typically comes from those who have never had to navigate the U.S. immigration system, so as someone who has, let me tell you; it is hard. The United States has one of the hardest immigration systems in the world. Unless you are a highly skilled worker or have an immediate citizen relative, it can take decades. For most of these DREAMers, there is no way to immigrate legally.
The long and short of it is that there is no objective reason why these young people, who trusted this government with their identity, should be rounded up and deported to countries they cannot remember. They are being used as props in a power play by the current administration to undermine the achievements of a very successful Democrat.
Considering how aggressively pro-life conservatives defend the rights of children to be protected from the mistakes of their parents, you’d expect far more compassion from the right-wing party.