The Trump Administration recalled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on September 5. DACA was launched in 2012, during the Obama era. This program allows people brought into the U.S. undocumented as children to obtain renewable deportation reprieves and work permits. This is the most extreme move towards immigration reform in Trump’s presidential campaign, and it will affect over 800,000 immigrants enrolled in the program. The action taken towards DACA disrupts the lives of children and families who belong in the only country they’ve known.
Immigration Law attorney Eduardo Herrera sees this action as a step towards complete immigration reform. Over 11,000 people in Oregon (known as Dreamers) are enrolled in the program.
Many questions were left unanswered after people gathered at the Portland State University campus to share their outrage at the Trump Administration’s recall of DACA. Ellen Rosenblum, the Oregon Attorney General, left Dreamers hopeful after announcing a potential lawsuit. “When you threaten a lawsuit, I think you ought to make good on your threat,” Rosenblum said.
Luckily, those already enrolled in DACA remain covered until their permits expire. “If you’ve lost your DACA, you are not necessarily at risk of deportation,” Herrera explained. If their permits expire before March 5, 2018, they were eligible to renew them for another two years as long as they applied by October 5, 2017. However, this only happens if Congress fails to pass a bill that would protect DACA recipients. Trump gave Congress six months to create their own legislative alternative should it choose to. Given this change is not a sudden phase out, but a gradual process, a “window of opportunity” explained Trump, is opened for Congress to act, either by the continuation of temporary protection, or a new path to legalization, but according to Herrera neither of those options is likely.
The decision to slowly fade out DACA betrays the trust of undocumented people living in the country; members of the Republican Party labeling immigrants as ‘criminals’ isn’t helping either. Students and school officials are issuing statements across the country rightfully speaking out about DACA. These “Dreamers” are children who were brought into the U.S. at a young age by their parents—this is the only country they know. They need and deserve the best education we can give them. Portland Public Schools titled a statement, posted on the PPS district website: “We support our DACA students.” PPS said in their statement, “this is cause for deep concern at Portland Public Schools.”
Oregon’s lone Republican congressman Greg Walden is known for his considerable reach in Washington and the White House. He issued a public statement, saying, “Congress should create a legal immigration system that works.” He added, “America’s legal immigration system is broken today and it needs congressional action to fix.”
Walden’s argument is continuously used as an excuse to strip people of their rights, but discontinuing DACA causes disruption in the lives of children and families that have every right to be in this country as permanent citizens.
This current immigration program is flawed. The system was, and is still continuing to fail many Dreamers. “ICE officers, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seek out any and all cases with the intention of deportation,” Herrera said. Many undocumented immigrants in the United States work in manual labor jobs, paid on low wages, but there’s another group that gains a lot less attention: entrepreneurs who have set up businesses, and create jobs. There are upwards of 20,000 undocumented immigrants earning wages higher than $100,000 a year as entrepreneurs, and their place in the country challenges the stereotype that undocumented immigrants aren’t benefit the U.S. economy. In our current capitalist society, the government is in favor of high labor jobs and low wage pay, making undocumented immigrants a target for low-income living. Based on a study conducted by Gallup News, a U.S. worker on average works 46.7 hours weekly with hourly wages—the minimum hourly wage nationwide is $7.25.
Dreamers need to feel safe and learn in a welcoming environment. Meanwhile, our Republican-led Congress believes that President Barack Obama did not have the authority to establish DACA, though they somehow believe Trump has the authority to dismantle it. By ending DACA, Trump fulfilled his campaign promise. Trump continues to acknowledge that politicians on both sides want a solution, other than “blanket” deportations of young people who have been educated in the U.S. and have clean records. The termination of DACA is an inhumane action because discontinuing DACA causes disruption in the lives of children and families that have the right to be in this country.
By singling out those 800,000 Dreamers, we harm a people who continue to support and serve our country with honor. And they are here to stay.