In unfortunate news this week, President Trump is doing all that is in his power to create an even more hostile environment for immigrants in America. This morning he announced his plans to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The program, implemented by President Obama, allows for immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive work permits, deferring possible deportations. As the current administration frames this policy as unaligned with American values and criminalizes undocumented immigrants, it's important to realize what the program is. Below are 10 facts you should know about DACA, Dreamers and Undocumented immigrants.
1. For many undocumented youths, DACA means access to college. Approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school each year and before DACA they were unable to afford the unimaginable costs of higher education. Under DACA many of these students were able to receive in state tuition fees, apply for FAFSA and access scholarships.
2. DACA means higher and fairer wages for undocumented immigrants. With legal work permits, DACA recipients are able to demand and receive fair wages for their labor, increasing social mobility and access to wealth for immigrant communities.
3. According to a study at the University of California, Los Angeles DACA significantly improved the mental and emotional well-being of undocumented students. Students reported feeling less fear, exclusion and anxiety under DACA.
4. "Dreamers" are the recipients of DACA, undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before they were 16. Approximately 787,000 Dreamers between the ages of 15 - 36 have been approved for DACA. They are named after the Dream Act which would have allowed a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors.
5. According to the American Immigration Council, "roughly 71 percent of potential beneficiaries are Mexican, while 14 percent are from other countries in North and Central America (including the Caribbean). Approximately 6 percent of potential beneficiaries are from Asia, 6 percent from South America, 2 percent from Europe, and 1 percent from other parts of the world."
6. Black undocumented immigrants are particularly vulnerable. According to the Black Alliance for Just Immigration "like African-Americans, Black immigrants experience disparate, often negative, outcomes within various social and economic structures in the United States, including the country’s mass criminalization and immigration enforcement regimes."
7. What happens now? According to The Guardian, "Dreamers will all lose their status by March 2020...as their statuses lapse they could be deported and sent back to countries of birth many have no familiarity with."
8. According to New York Times journalist, Vivian Yee, those who lose DACA are not primary targets for deportation, however, once they lose DACA status, they will be treated like all other undocumented immigrants, which still puts them at risk. Additionally, their data is readily available to ICE making them more vulnerable.
9. Can we stop this? Although the President has decided to end DACA, Congress can combat this by passing the Dream Act to allow for a path to legal residency for undocumented immigrants who arrived at this country as minors. Use this toolkit to take action and defend DACA.
10. This is about so much more than the economy. Dreamers are people, with families and futures that will be strongly impacted by the harsh xenophobia they experience in America. Revoking DACA is highlighting the moral ineptitude of this nation and this decision shouldn't be met with anything but outrage.