Not having the courage to deliver the death knell himself, President Donald Trump tapped Attorney General Jeff Sessions to deliver the bad news regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) order.
Sessions accepted the charge and readily furthered the Administration’s xenophobic proclivity when he announced the DACA order was rescinded.
The Administration’s action included a six-month wind-down period that pushed the ultimate responsibility for saving the program onto Congress whose continued stalemate on this issue in years passed was the impetus for former President Obama’s Executive Action in the first place.
Implemented in 2012, DACA was Obama’s signature immigration policy. It was widely celebrated for the protections and opportunities it offered nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants, popularly identified as Dreamers.
Dreamers are young people who were brought to America as children. Remember, they did not break the law, their parents did. Since the program’s implementation, over 787,000 Dreamers have applied and were protected under the program, 223,000 of them are right here in California. It is also important to point out, not all Dreamers are from Mexico. There are Canadians, Europeans, Africans, Central Americans, Asians and many from island nations like Jamaica, Haiti, and elsewhere.
During Session’s announcement on Tuesday, he said, “Societies where the rule of law is subject to political whims and personal biases tend to become societies afflicted by corruption, poverty and human suffering;” but, following are the facts.
Since DACA’s implementation, 95 percent are currently working or in school; 63 percent got better paying jobs; 54 percent bought their first car; 48 percent got a job with better working conditions; and 12 percent bought their first home. In addition, more than 359 Dreamers joined the military in 2016.
Sessions spent much of his announcement disparaging Obama and telling half-truths. One example included his comments about how DACA (implemented in 2012) led to a sudden surge of minors on the border (in 2014). Some believe he also attempted to sow conflict among America’s working class when he claimed DACA, “. . . denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.” If this were true, where is the responsibility of the employers who hired them?
Kicking the ultimate decision about the future of these young people to Congress, seems like an exercise in futility. After all, Congress has fought over and failed to deliver on this issue since the years George W. Bush was in office. Now that the extreme right is emboldened by Trump’s support, including the tea party contingency in Congress, it is hard to see a pathway to Congressional victory for the Dreamers.
A six-month-clock is ticking. Dreamers must renew their applications every two years. According to reporting by MSNBC, those whose applications expire before March 6, 2018, will be able to renew their DACA status for another two years. However, those whose renewal dates fall after March 6, 2018, will not be able to renew unless Congress acts on their behalf.