What Is DACA?
On Tuesday, September 5, the White House announced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program put in place by the Obama Administration in 2012. The plan, implemented via executive order by Barack Obama, protected young children, who were brought to the United States illegally, from deportation.
Currently, the program benefits 800,000 undocumented “Dreamers” (as they were referred to by the Obama Administration) who were brought to the United States as children and grew up here. Protections include things such as the opportunity for lawful employment and the ability to open a bank account. Beneficiaries can renew a visa every two years so long as they pass a criminal background check and meet other required qualifications.
Trump’s Reason For Repealing
The actual announcement for repeal came not from Trump, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to Sessions, the initial implementation of DACA was “an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.” While many Republican politicians did not support DACA because of its lenient immigration stance, many other GOP members simply did not support it because of the way it was implemented.
President Obama used an executive order to push the program forward after Congress would not pass it. While rescinding DACA is in line with Trump’s campaign rhetoric of hard-line immigration reform and nationalism, he expressed some sympathy for children who were brought here illegally by no choice of their own.
He released a statement himself saying, "I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the actions of their parents. But we must also recognize that we are (a) nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws."
What Will Happen To The Current Beneficiaries?
As I mentioned above, DACA currently benefits around 800,000 undocumented “dreamers” in the United States. Most of them have spent the majority of their lives in this country and were brought here by no choice of their own.
The answer to whether or not they face danger of deportation has not been made clear by the Trump Administration at this point. On the same day that the repeal was announced, Trump Tweeted the following: “Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do).
If they can't, I will revisit this issue!” The cancellation of the law is reported to go into effect on March 6, 2018. Though the President promised to revisit the issue if a law is not passed by Congress, a leaked memo sent from the White House to Capitol Hill included the following quote: "The Department of Homeland Security urges DACA recipients to use the time remaining on their work authorizations to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States -- including proactively seeking travel documentation -- or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible."
Former President Obama responded negatively to the announcement in a Facebook post. In the post, Obama laments the decision calling it “self-defeating.” He goes on in the post to say, "Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us."