- DACA is an Obama-era program that defers the deportation of young immigrants.
- Dreamers refer to those protected under DACA.
- President Trump ended DACA.
- Congress has six months to pass a bill replacing DACA.
- The Dream Act 2017 has the most bipartisan support in Congress.
- A growing sense of uncertainty has made this a difficult month for Dreamers.
The Trump administration has, in the last month, attempted to reorient the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals) from an executive program to a congressional issue in order to prevent Dreamers from being deported (which appears to be his end goal) and to please his base, who argue that the implementation of the DACA program under President Obama was an “executive overreach.”
What is DACA?
The 2012 Obama-era DACA program provided a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who were enrolled or graduated from high school, brought to the country when they were under 16 years of age and free of a felony conviction.
Why Trump crushed ‘Dreamers’ dreams:
Ending DACA in the executive branch was beneficial to Trump in many ways, the most important being that it shifts responsibility for the program (if passed in the legislature) and immigration reform to Congress, similar to the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Second, terminating DACA is another way in which Trump can disassemble President Obama’s legacy, arguably one of his main goals as the commander-in-chief, according to the New York Times.
What went down:
On Sept. 5, the President terminated the DACA program. According to the National Immigration Law Center, DACA will no longer accept applications, and Dreamers already enrolled in the program have until Oct. 5 to apply for their two-year renewal.
President Trump then passed the responsibility for the lives of 790,000 young Dreamers to a Republican congress.
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
What went down, pt. 2:
Nine days after President Trump announced the end of DACA, he discussed the program with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over dinner. Predictably, Trump’s base was unhappy to learn that he worked with the Democrats on immigration. In response, he tweeted the following:
Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!.....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
The WALL, which is already under construction in the form of new renovation of old and existing fences and walls, will continue to be built.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
No deal was made last night on DACA. Massive border security would have to be agreed to in exchange for consent. Would be subject to vote.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 14, 2017
What is Congress doing about it?
Congress has the chance to pass legislation that would protect the Dreamers, give them a path to permanent citizenship or permanent residency and create a system to provide this relief to other young immigrants who meet the criteria in the future.
But, the argument is in the details. These are the two bills garnering the most attention:
- A yet-unnamed bill that is being released Monday by GOP senators. It’s a more conservative measure that prevents Dreamers from sponsoring family members to enter the U.S. Trump, according to Politico, is "very supportive" of this version.
- In July, senators of both parties introduced the Dream Act of 2017, which is broken down on the National Immigration Law Center’s FAQ and in a recent CNN article. The FAQ notes that this version is “stronger” for immigrants than previous versions of the bill.
Many are rallying to pass the Dream Act of 2017, but this activism has been going on for years. Politico writes: “Over the past decade, these young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children have built an intensely organized political movement – speaking out, staging demonstrations, building alliances and hounding lawmakers to expand their legal foothold in the United States.”
How does this affect the Dreamers?
The chaos and uncertaintly associated with President Trump’s abrupt dismantling of the program has been extremely difficult for the Dreamers.
Trump’s assurance that “you have nothing to worry about,” coming from a president who regularly promises to build a physical wall between the U.S. and Mexico, is meek. Also, it is unclear if his promise of security extends past the six-month period Congress has to pass legislation for the Dreamers.
According to a recent Vox piece, Trump's remarks have done little to assuage fears of deportation. An unnamed Dreamers quoted in the article said “It's pretty scary (...) You know you are in the system and that they can come get you any time.”
As the Washington Post writes, “‘Dreamers’ took a big risk by registering with the government. Now, their trust may lead to their deportation."