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DACA Repeal

Taylor Talcott, Staff Writer

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On September 5th, President Trump and Attorney general Jeff Sessions revealed the administration’s intentions to repeal the Obama-era Deffered Action for Childhood Arrival Act, or DACA, citing that it betrayed the constitutionally-given powers Obama held as president. Daca was passed in June 2012, and it has since then provided work permits to over 800,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. The policy was passed as an executive action that protects the “Dreamers” who arrived in the US under the age of 16, were under the age of 31 as of June 2012, and who have stayed continuously in the US from June 2007 to the present. The policy does not provide an outlet to citizenship nor does it apply to those entering the US currently. It only defers the possibility of deportation for a period of 2 years, at the end of which, one can re-apply. Those who apply for DACA live as temporary legal residents and are subject to similar privileges and the same taxes as American citizens. The repeal of DACA threatens the lives of over 800,000 hard-working individuals who truly embody the spirit of the American Dream.

Trump defended his stance against the policy, stating that it was an unconstitutional act and that it brought in an humanitarian crisis as it encouraged the acceptance of “young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country.” However, there is no empirical evidence that the “Dreamers” are at higher risk for violent acts, and the policy itself does not cover anyone with a criminal history. Despite the purported impression by the administration, those protected by DACA have actually become valuable and productive members of society. The Cato Institute reports that Dreamers are employed with jobs that, on average, pay 17 dollars an hour. Those protected are also subject to taxation and are ineligible for federal welfare, resulting in augmented profits for the federal system rather than a drain on resources, The Center for American Progress reports that over 90% of Dreamers are employed, and over 70% have pursued or obtained a bachelor’s degree. In addition to their contribution to society, Dreamers have found a home in the United States. Arriving in the US at the median age of 7, the repealment of DACA threatens hundreds of thousands with the loss of the only true homes they have ever known. Sessions and Trump support their decision by maintaining that DACA is damaging to American immigration Policy, as it encourages illegal immigration. However within the last decade or so, illegal immigration has declined–even after the insallation of DACA. The Trump administration’s self-described “compassionate approach” to addressing immigration and “protecting” the rights of American workers is not only economically detrimental to the nation, but a personal attack on the American Dream that so much of our nation was built on.

The keystone of the action against DACA hinges upon the assertion that the policy was a result of unconstitutional action by former president Obama. However, this claim is moderately compelling at best. DACA is likely well within the president’s discretion as it doesn’t grant anyone citizenship, only deferring the possibility of deportation, and the policy itself does not simply grant basic rights to those who apply. It was created by executive action, but it falls under the bounds of prosecutorial discretion. It is well within the president’s authority to decide to delay or choose to abstain from prosecution or illegal acts. DACA is not a blanket protection of immigrants who have applied for help; it is choice to delay the possible prosecution and deportation of immigrants who entered this country illegally as children. Similar acts have occurred throughout history for the sake humanitarian aid, such as in 2001 when George W. Bush delayed the deportation of Salvadoran citizens due to a plea from the president of El Salvador, and the NIcaraguan Adjustment and Central American relief Act, which provided immigration protections for specific immigrants provided they were seeking asylum. The repealment of DACA is a thinly guised attack against the very core of this country: equality of opportunity based upon freedom of private enterprise and public harmony.

Not only is the proposed repeal of DACA an offense against the foundation of our country, it is a potential economic disaster for the United States. DACA may be fundamentally against Trump’s “America First” policy, but its repeal could cripple the country’s economic growth. The US is experiencing a severe shortage of skilled workers, as the National Federation of Business reports that 87% of small business employers in July reported difficulty in finding qualified applicants, and the deportation of the very people that fill that economic niche could exacerbate it. Not only would the Dreamers’ deportation deprive American firms of possible labor, it would eliminate the financial gain from 800,00 taxpayers who do not participate in welfare programs. Contrary to common political propaganda, the increase of a worker pool does not equate to ta rise in unemployment. This belief is known as the lump of labor fallacy, which asserts that there are a fixed number of jobs in society. However, this assertion is duly inaccurate. Skilled immigrants, what the Dreamers are best described as, do not “steal jobs’ from American citizens; they more accurately fill open economic niches or expand the economy by creating new jobs and businesses and by increasing the population and therefore demand for enterprise growth. DACA has invited controversy since its application, as several lawsuits have been filed against it, but the Trump Administration’s decision to repeal it was a severe step past previous actions as well as a detrimental erroneous call.

The decision to repeal DACA may have been legally and politically motivated, but that does not condone the methodology of the action. The imposed repeal of DACA holds hundreds of thousands of lives hostage to the actions of Congress and the whims of the president. Trump’s decision to repeal DACA allows himself to take responsibility for ending “unconstitutional” policy, but it also passes off the real burden of ending a popularly-supported program to Congress. While the decision does not present itself as purely political it is not purely legal either. If DACA proved only to be unconstitutional, then the administration could have chosen to codify it into legislation, but the administration chose to destroy it instead. Built on the foundation of lies and misinformation, Trump and his administration maintain that DACA encourages illegal immigration and violent crime. Empirical evidence has supported the contrary, yet the repeal of DACA remains. Even moderate conservatives who may call DACA unconstitutional still fight against the deportation of the Dreamers, as they recognize the economical benefits. The decision to repeal DACA, while still at the mercy of congress, is a blatant attack against immigrants. It is thinly-veiled bigotry aimged against those who have committed no willful crimes and only sought to build themselves a life in the only home they have ever known. While not Americans by political or legal definition, Dreamers are Americans by any other definition, and they have worked their way into our society and their rights should be preserved as such.

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DACA Repeal