One of the most important programs created under President Obama was the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program has allowed close to a million DREAMers to live and work in the U.S. lawfully. It is one of the most celebrated programs under President Obama—and now Trump is dead set on getting rid of it, and then deporting those who have benefited from it. Here is what you need to know about it.
What is DACA?
In 2012, President Obama created the DACA program to grant relief from deportation to individuals who came to the U.S. as children, if they met a number of requirements (like background checks). The Obama Administration recognized that there were millions of undocumented young immigrants who grew up in the U.S., who thought of the U.S. as their home, and who were essentially American in every sense, except on paper. The program has allowed approximately 800,000 young people the opportunity to live and work lawfully in the U.S. It does not provide a path to citizenship.
What is the difference between DACA and DREAMers?
A DREAMer is anyone who came to the U.S. as a child, who grew up here, but remains undocumented. They are called “DREAMers” after the DREAM Act, legislation that would allow these young immigrants to stay in the U.S. and put them on a path to citizenship, if they meet certain requirements like enrolling in college or joining the military.
The only difference between DACA and DREAMers is that DACAmented youth are those who have applied for and have been officially allowed to stay in the U.S. through the DACA program. Obtaining DACA has proven to be transformative. A 2016 study revealed that DACA has improved the lives of its recipients and their families, showing that, among DACA recipients:
- 95% are currently working or in school
- 48% got a job with better working conditions
- 63% got a better paying job
- 90% got a driver’s license or state ID
- 54% bought their first car
- 12% bought their first home
The DACA program is under imminent threat
Although the DACA program has wide-ranging support from elected officials across the political spectrum—including House Speaker Paul Ryan, and even (at times) from Donald Trump, the Trump White House is now standing idly by as a vocal minority of anti-immigrant state officials threatens to unravel the entire program in the courts. Led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, there are 10 states (TX, AL, AR, ID, KS, LA, NE, SC, TN, WV) that are calling for an end to the DACA program. The have given the Trump Administration an ultimatum: get rid of DACA or they will make sure a judge does.
Eliminating DACA would devastate nearly a million people and their families
Removing DACA protections from these hundreds of thousands of young people would turn their lives upside down, and harm the communities where they live, work and study. The only beneficiary would be the for-profit private immigrant detention complex and Trump’s runaway deportation machine, which would embark on a new taxpayer-funded mission to apprehend, process, detain and remove these young people.
What can you do to protect DACAmented youth?
Like so many other issues, Congress has the power to remedy this situation. Congress doesn’t have to—and should not—sit on the sidelines. Congress can pass legislation protecting these immigrant youth.
- Call your Senators and tell them to co-sponsor the bipartisan Durbin-Graham “DREAM Act” (S. 1615) to create a legislative fix to the predicament of these young Americans, and take their future out of Trump’s hands.
- Call your House Representative and tell her/him to co-sponsor Rep. Gutierrez’s American Hope Act (H.R. 3591) give those with DACA and others who arrived in the United States as children a path to permanent legal status and eventual citizenship.