Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and beginning a time of fear for children of immigrants.
Established under an executive order by former President Barack Obama, the DACA protects those who were brought into the United States as children of immigrants. By no choice of their own, these undocumented immigrants, under the age of 30, were raised in the U.S. after they arrived as children. These children, also known as Dreamers, were protected under DACA from fear of deportation and granted a two-year period for work or school.
If DACA is taken away, almost 800,000 individuals will lose the guarantee of schooling, jobs, family and peace of mind. These young immigrants are tax-paying, law-abiding people, who want to work, live and serve in a country where many take those privileges for granted. This program should not be confused with one that grants amnesty, because DACA does not grant citizenship. Instead, it offers individuals a period to start a foundation for a meaningful life.
Opponents will argue that these immigrants are stealing jobs and not contributing to society. If this was true, then areas where immigrants are more plentiful should show higher rates of unemployment. According to a study by the Immigration Policy Center and the American Community Survey in 2011, there is no relationship between unemployment rates and the presence of immigrants that is statistically significant.
What is statistically significant is the amount of money that will be lost when 800,000 undocumented immigrants are suddenly ripped from their homes and workplaces. According to a CNN article, ending DACA would cost employers nearly $2 billion dollars over the span of two years, cost the federal government $60 billion to immediately deport 800,000 people, and risk a $280 billion hit to the economy’s expected 10-year growth.
These Dreamers are young people who have gone to school and learned the professional skills needed in workplaces across the nation. Losing these 800,000 individuals means losing 800,000 trained minds and unique skill sets that could benefit our nation. They earn degrees to obtain jobs, which grant them pay checks that they spend in benefit of the American economy.
DACA was established through executive order because it was “basic decency” according to Obama in his statement on the policy. Whether an executive order such as this is unconstitutional has yet to be decided by the Supreme Court. However, this does not change the fact that the repeal is now passing through Congress. This is the chance for our government to lawfully establish a program that will help, not abandon these people.
It is time for our nation to stop trying to divide itself. These are working, tax paying individuals who arrived in this nation through no fault of their own. There is no reason that our nation should not extend its gratitude and privileges of education, work and safety to those brought and raised here. The Dreamers do not deserve a life of fear, and Congress should keep this in mind when deciding on the new immigration law.