An overview on the rollback of DACA

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Reilly O’Neill, Senior Editor
@RONeillCourant

The United States is seven months into the Trump administration, and his promise to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on ‘day one’ of his presidency is finally being followed through on. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), was first implemented in 2012 under President Obama. DACA was created as a way for young undocumented immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children to defer their deportation for a short period.

Each applicant for DACA who receives protections can stay in the US for a period of 2 years and can then reapply. DACA protections do not give them “legal status”, citizenship, or even a path to citizenship. It does allow them to continue education and receive a work permit through statutory law that allows deferred action recipients to find work.

Graphic from uscis.gov

Recipients of Deferred action do not have access to legal residency and keeps them in a state of legal limbo, but in some states have access to in-state tuition, which is determined at the discretion of individual states.

According to the Department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), applicants for DACA benefits must have proof of a clear criminal record and that they entered the US before 2007. There are currently 740,000 recipients of DACA benefits, some who have never been to the country their parents are from and others who have been able to find work and even buy homes.

Currently there are few new applicants for DACA because many who were eligible at the time of it being established in 2012 are protected and have been renewing their protections.

This ending of the program will heavily impact those who are residing in the US at the moment. When their protections expire they will be unable to re-apply and could be deported unless Congress finds a way to legalize DACA within six months. 

Graphic from United We Dream

With President Trump’s decision came a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions supporting the repeal. In his letter, he cites the original passing of DACA as an ““unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.” While it’s true it was not voted on by Congress or the House, the Supreme Court who determines constitutionality of the Executive Branch’s actions has never ruled on the constitutionality of DACA. Attorney General Sessions also cites the cost of rescinding the program, but that’s not the only cost this may cause the US.

In a recent study, it was determined that the US government brings in $12 billion in taxes from undocumented immigrants. Because illegal immigrants are unable to receive a Social Security number, many will buy fake numbers in order to get jobs and then pay social security and income taxes to the government.

When undocumented immigrants pay social security tax, the money goes into the Earnings Suspense File (ESF). Because they cannot get a social security number, they can’t receive benefits and the ESF holds the money collected. In my research on this I was unable to uncover exactly how the government makes money off of this file, but that it does make a large revenue annually.

While the government probably won’t be losing a large amount of money from this system, there could be a noticeable dent in it with the repeal of DACA and the resulting deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Later the same day President Trump announced his administration’s repeal of DACA, he seemed to backtrack on some parts of his plan by tweeting out, “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! “ President Trump was referencing the Obama administration’s failures to legalize through the legislative branch plans similar to DACA. Unfortunately, it seems that many factors will contribute to Congress’s inability to pass DACA, including growing partisanship, a schism among Republicans, and a lack of time due to how abrupt this announcement was.

In conclusion, what little certainty we have about the future of this program can be offset by the fact that the United States is a democracy. We the people have more power than one could imagine, and there are ways to advocate for an effort to continue this program or even continue the repeal. Raise your voice, gather information and take advantage of our democratic system.

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Blogs Editor I Class of 2018 I Expanding my knowledge of how journalists investigate stories and how to work with a variety of people

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