Kalpana V. Peddibhotla & Roujin Mozaffarimehr
On September 5, 2017 President Trump announced that his administration will be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, effectively ending protection for the DREAMers he promised to support during his campaign and the early months of his Presidency.
In 2012, the DACA program was introduced to allow young people to step out from the shadows and seek protection of the U.S. DACA did not provide a path toward citizenship, but instead provided temporary protections from deportation, while waiting for Congress to actually take action to pass legislation. In this blog we unpack who the DREAMers are, and how Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ characterization of these young people is not only false, but harmful to our American ideals.
Who are the DREAMers?
They are over 800,00 young people, a quarter of which live in California. The majority of DREAMers were brought as children from Mexico, but they come from over 13 other countries including El Salvador, Brazil, South Korea, and India. They entered the US as children; on average most DREAMers entered the U.S. when they were 6 years old. DREAMers tend to be well educated; in fact enrollment in school or a high school diploma or equivalent was required for DACA qualification. Most DACA recipients today are young adults in their early 20’s and have spent the majority of their lives in the U.S. See the Bipartisan Policy Center’s DACA fact sheet and the New York Times’ article on the DREAMers.
In Ending DACA, Attorney General Jeff Sessions Took an Unnecessary and Misleading Swipe at DREAMers. We are here to set the record straight.
President Trump’s announcement was read by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to the public. Sessions didn’t simply announce the end of DACA, but he decided to make several false statements and insinuations, which were slanderous to DREAMers and perpetuate a narrative of immigration myths designed to inflame and sidestep the real issues underlying our broken immigration system.
These falsehoods include:
“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences.”
– DACA was instituted in 2012.
- The surge in unaccompanied minors along our southern border began in 2008, beforeDACA was adopted.
- Furthermore, in order to qualify for DACA, an undocumented child would needed to have been in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 and would have needed to be physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012. Thus, it begs logic to conclude that children left their homes because of DACA when they could not qualify.
- Most of these unaccompanied minors are from Central America, and not Mexico, and the primary reason for leaving their homes is extreme gang violence – they are fleeing for their lives.
See Study published in International Migration.
“It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”
- NPR did a recent fact check analysis on this issue. Typically the claim of “job theft” arises from a perception that there is a limited number of jobs available and so any additional individuals competing for those jobs locks someone else out of the job. According to the NPR, the job market is relatively healthy, but more importantly, most DACA recipients are either current college students or recent college graduates and thus tend to be highly educated, which means they have the potential to actually grow the economy.The Administration’s statement went beyond falsehoods. The more subtle statements of Session’s announcement were perhaps more troubling than the above falsehoods – mainly painting DREAMers as criminals and being a risk to America’s workers, national security, public safety, and well-being. There is no evidence supporting these false and misleading statements made by this administration.
- According to a recent report by the non-partisan research and think tank, the Cato Institute, less than 1% of DREAMers have been incarcerated and in fact, “[t]he native-born incarceration rate is 14 percent higher than the DREAMer incarceration rate…” While it is true that there are DREAMers who have committed crimes, they typically are less likely to commit crime than the native born population, which does not support a claim of their criminal activity being a threat to our national security. Moreover, a DACA recipient loses the benefit if convicted of a serious crime and becomes deportable under our current immigration laws.
What Does the Future Hold for the DREAMers?
Several proposals are currently pending in Congress to support the DREAMers in varying degrees:
- The DREAM Act: Introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham.
- The Bridge Act: Introduced by Republican Representative Mike Coffman
- The Recognizing America’s Children Act: Introduced by Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida
- The Enlist Act: Introduced by Republican Representative Jeff Denham
- SUCCEED Act(Solution for Undocumented Children through Careers Employment Education and Defending our nation): Introduced by Republican Senators Thom Tillis, James Kanford, and Orrin Hatch
We at MPLG fully support the DREAM Act and are committed to the DREAMers.
In spite of the above proposals pending in Congress, there is no clear future for the DREAMers. While DACA renewals are being accepted through Friday October 5, 2017, there is no clear path after the expiration of these extensions are reached.
There may be options for DREAMers separate from these proposed bills. For an analysis of your case, please contact our office for further information.