Individuals raged over the new DACA revelation this week, many confused, exasperated and enraged over Donald Trump’s decision to deport 800,000 immigrants, 91% working legally. Most opposition is coming from Democrats, but there has been grumblings and resistance from Republicans as well. A survey shows that 72% of Republicans say that DACA recipients should be allowed to stay or earn legal citizenship. Recipients of DACA are found to be less likely to be incarcerated than same age and education level native-born Americans. They also work for their situation, paying taxes but unable to collect welfare benefits, among other restrictions.
With Trump’s sudden decision to deport hundreds of thousands of people across the United States, many lives are feeling upside down amid the seemingly normal going-ons of native-born individuals. DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has aided well over half a million children whose families entered the U.S. illegally. Created five years ago by President Obama, DACA’s goal was to give children under the age of 16 who immigrated illegally a chance at life in America. Of course, requirements would have to had been fulfilled, including not having had a serious criminal conviction and attending high school or having a high school degree or GED equivalent. Protection from deportation and a work permit are given to those accepted into the program and may be renewed.
Studies show that halfway through 2017 more than 200,000 unauthorized immigrants have renewed their benefits, with about 800,000 renewals since 2012. Californians have seen the largest number of DACA initial applications renewed, with 223,000 since August of 2012. This is a significant number of people, with a large percentage leading valued lives. DACA participants are mainly from Mexico, but their origins range from El Salvador to Ecuador, to Colombia. Mrs. Martinez commented on Donald Trump’s decision saying “This is a cruel act against people who are American in every way except for paperwork. They are just trying to make a life for themselves.”
“This is a sad day for our country,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his personal page. “It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.” Not only has the program providing DACA participants immunity to deportation ended, the form in which it has ended may also have violated privacy rights. Addresses, fingerprints and other personal information were given, with DACA members “relying on the representation of their government.” The rescinding of this program is a breach of Dreamers’ trust.
Not only is Trump’s decision regarded as a cruel and brutal choice, it is economically senseless, and research can prove it. According to a study by the Cato Institute, the typical Dreamer earns $17 an hour. The fact that they also pay taxes yet are not eligible for welfare means that Dreamers are far from a burden, rather they are a huge benefit. Washington is expected to lose $280 billion in lost tax revenue by deporting DACA participants. Economist Paul Krugman also points out what would be a regressive move for the economy “And what would make secular stagnation more of a problem? Hey, let’s expel thousands of young people from the current and future workforce.”
Surveys found that 90% of Dreamers over the age of 25 are employed with an annual income of $37,000. More than 70% either already have or are earning their bachelor’s degree and 98% of them speak fluent English. The survey also found that participants over the age of 25 are twice as likely to start a new business compared to the national average. This group of people supports America’s working class, business, and community. Average Dreamers arrived in the U.S. at 7 years old, and thus have spent most of their lives in this country. A quarter of them have children who are legal citizens, as well as families and ownership of companies. Adi Ibarra remarked that she felt “Scared and nervous, as well as very worried” for her cousin and other family and friends who were part of the DACA program.
Donald Trump has made statements saying that Obama’s initiative has led to a “massive surge [of] young people who would become members of violent gangs throughout our country.” This paints the image that Dreamers are brutal individuals, filled with malice and intentions of ruining communities and the economy. Criminals were not accepted to the DACA program when it was still running in the first place. Jeff Session has also described the repeal of DACA as a “compassionate” act to protect U.S. workers and uphold the rule of law. As studies and surveys show, the participants of DACA are people whose meaningful and valued lives have been turned upside down in the mix of confusion over their loss of safety and security.
By Callie Solberg
Image via New York Times