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Update on April 25, 2018: A federal judge orders the U.S. government to continue Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and accept new applicants, according to the Washington Post.
Immigration is a politically divisive issue.
It can be hard to keep in mind that real people are affected, no matter what your political views.
People’s livelihoods began to hang in the balance in September 2017 when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would be rescinding the DACA.
DACA is an Obama administration program begun in 2012 that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to apply to defer deportation and legally reside in the country for two years. They can apply for reinstatement after.
How many children, known as DREAMers, are impacted?
3.6 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank that studies global immigration patterns. The large number raises questions about deportation and/or a path to citizenship.
“At a time when our economy is growing and our labor market is extremely tight, these are all folks of working age who have skills to immediately contribute,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told USA Today. “We would be spending billions of dollars to remove folks who have the potential to help the country grow.”
Latinos and DACA
DACA is viewed as beneficial to undocumented Latinos.
Nine out of every 10 DACA recipients comes from a Latin American country; the Pew Research Institute determined that more than half a million DACA recipients alone have come from Mexico.
To qualify for DACA, DREAMers have to:
- go through a thorough background check
- prove they arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday
- Be age 30 or younger
- Attend school or serve in the military
- Have not committed a felony or serious misdemeanor.
Mark Krikorian, executive director for the Center for Immigration Status, told USA Today that protections should only be extended for some 800,000 known participants in the DACA program.
“It’s not like they’re entitled to anything, but prudence suggests an extraordinary act of mercy,” he said. “Amnesty is warranted for them alone, at least this time.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have said that agents will currently not deport former DACA recipients if their protections expire.
“There is support across the country for allowing DREAMers— who have records of achievement—to stay, work, and reach their full potential,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham. “We should not squander these young people’s talents and penalize our own nation.”