In June of 2012, the Obama administration signed an American immigration policy that allowed children of undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as minors a two year renewable work permit, without fear of deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly known as DACA, came under fire a few months into 2014 when the Obama administration attempted to expand the program for other immigrants. The courts decided expanding the program was unconstitutional, but the original policy remained, though under review.
Today, around 750,000 undocumented immigrants receive or received DACA.
On September 5 of this year, the Trump administration announced the end of DACA. Congress delayed implementation of its removal from policy by six months to find a solution for current benefiters of DACA.
Since DACA’s creation, right wing and left wing groups have argued many theories about its impact on the economy, crime, and migration patterns. While some are proved to be true, many are not.
Are immigrants enrolled in the program with DACA more likely to commit crimes?
No. To qualify for DACA in the first place, applicants must submit an I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and I-765WS, Worksheet, as well as supporting documentation to prove that they have a crime-free background. They resubmit these documents every two years to apply to renew their time with the program.
Furthermore, applicants who pose a public safety threat, which “include, but are not limited to, gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the United States” are not eligible for the program in the first place (factcheck.org).
At any rate, factcheck.org noted that there is no proof that immigrants commit more crimes than non-immigrants, as seen through a study in American Sociological Review.
Is DACA responsible for the surge of immigrants from Central America in 2012?
No. Indeed, there was a surge of undocumented immigrants in 2012. However, DACA clearly states that to be eligible, applicants must have had continuous residence in the U.S. SINCE June 2007. Though this could be a possible motive for the surge, none of the studies on this have found real proof that DACA was the reason for it.
Does DACA, like Jeff Sessions said, have a negative impact on U.S. citizens for employment?
No. Jeff Sessions claimed that DACA “denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of [native born] Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” However, this has not been found true. The decreased rate of immigrant unemployment is largely due to the fact that immigrants had a larger amount of unemployment initially. Therefore, their rate of unemployment decreased more radically because there was more room for change. Some economists warned that DACA could hurt the economy, while others argued it would boost it. In fact, a study done in October of 2016 by the Center for American progress found that DACA actually allowed participants to contribute to the economy due to their income.
What’s next for DACA recipients?
House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are currently meeting to find a solution as to how to deal with the current DREAMers (those receiving work permits from DACA). Party spokespersons have said that they hope to continue DACA protections; there is still no explicit plan, however, on what kind of policy will replace DACA.
Currently however, many undocumented immigrants are facing both legal and verbal discrimination due to the rescinding of the policy. A student in Kentucky who is part of the DACA program came forward this week explaining that a classmate had publicly encouraged classmates to turn her in to be deported. While the school has made ambiguous comments condemning such discrimination, the student reported that no steps have been made to actually defend her from vicious comments.
The future of DACA is unclear as of now, but what we can control is how we treat other people. Regardless of the future of this policy, discrimination of any type should not be tolerated, and campuses, communities, and our country should do its best to treat each member of its community the same.