September 28, 2017
On June 2012, Barack Obama implemented a policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—or DACA— by way of executive order. The policy was put in place so that undocumented immigrants who moved to the United States as minors would be granted temporary immunity from deportation and ultimately qualify for work permits. Approximately 800,000 individuals, most commonly referred to as “Dreamers,” were enrolled in the program.
Immediately upon its implementation, the program was subject to great controversy; the GOP took issue with the policy and attacked it as a gross abuse of executive power. The House of Representatives even voted to defund the bill in 2014. The motion ultimately proved ineffective, as DACA is primarily funded by its own application fees.
Now, you have probably noticed that news about this policy has been plastered across the front pages of virtually every American media outlet. That is because on Sep. 5, President Trump rescinded DACA and gave Congress six months to figure out what to do with individuals already enrolled in the program.
Naturally, this divisive move has produced polarized reactions. The GOP has praised Trump’s decision—hailing it as a progressive, necessary move towards tougher immigration reform and a fitting answer to what they believe was an unfair overstepping of executive authority by President Obama. As Mitch McConnell puts it, “President Obama wrongly believed he had the authority to rewrite our immigration law. Today’s action by President Trump corrects that fundamental mistake.”
The response from the left was less than effusive in praise. Barack Obama released a statement, upon hearing Trump’s decision, calling the issue a matter of “basic human decency” and called on Americans to, “treat [Dreamers] the way we’d want our own kids to be treated.”
There are some things we should get straight. Not just anyone can enroll in DACA. There are a number of stipulations to enroll in the program. An eligible applicant must have come to the United States before his or her sixteenth birthday; they must have completed high school or gotten a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or be enrolled in school. In short, the eligible applicants for DACA must be working to contribute to American society.
But perhaps the most important qualification necessary for DACA enrollment has to do with crime. An eligible applicant must not have been convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors. They also cannot be deemed as posing a threat to national security or public safety. Speaking on the application of immigration laws in the wake of Trump’s decision, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that, “[failure] to enforce the [immigration] laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and even terrorism.” Considering the fact that criminals are not allowed to enroll in DACA, Sessions’ argument does not hold much weight.
Another gripe many conservatives have with DACA has to do with the negative economic ramifications of the policy. Many have argued DACA denies thousands of U.S. citizens job opportunities. That would be an absolutely terrifying prospect—if it were true. Lucky for us, it is not true at all.
Both Jeff Sessions and White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders have publicly bemoaned DACA’s potential negative impact on the American job market, but according to the Associated Press fact check of their statements, “[few] economists or business leaders subscribe to the administration’s view.” In fact, given the health of the American job market, more workers are needed to sustain economic growth, and DACA participants could help fill a void.
It is really no secret that the President’s decision to rescind DACA was purely political. Donald Trump has forged his entire career in government by cultivating unfounded paranoia. The notion that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is fraudulent, the idea that Bill Clinton is a serial rapist, the prospect of a little Syrian boy making it through our nation’s near-insurmountable refugee-vetting process only to blow up a shopping mall. Any number of the other terrifying fallacies that Trump or his people shamelessly propagate are nothing more than calculated, cynical ploys for political capital. The basis he established for rescinding DACA is no different. Make no mistake: the American people are no safer and the economy is no healthier as a consequence of potentially displacing Dreamers and killing what has been a constructive policy. But Donald Trump can trust that his supporters will sleep a little easier tonight, knowing that they are finally safe from a threat that never actually existed in the first place.
Jay Fuchs is a senior communication major.