Trump Halts DACA Program for Immigrants
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on behalf of Donald Trump that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA would be halted for six months and no new applications would be accepted. DACA was created in 2012 by the Obama Administration. It allows illegal immigrant children a stay on deportation for two years, work permits, college acceptance, and military service. To qualify, recipients must have entered the country before the age of 16 prior to 2007 and living continuously in the US since then. DACA also applied if a person was 31 or younger the day after President Obama made his announcement (born on or before June 16, 2012). High school graduates and those honorably discharged from the armed forces also met requirements. Those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanors, or anyone deemed a threat to national security were not considered. After the initial application fee of $495 individuals must renew their status every 2 years and pay another $495. These fees made the program self-funded rather than tax payer funded. As of now there are over 800,000 people under DACA with more than 40,000 pending applications and some on active duty in the military.
After the White House announcement, current DACA holders may keep their status until it expires and are allowed to renew within the next 6 months. However, the program will be phased out over the next two years with full program elimination by 2020. Expired DACA holders will lose work permits and are deportable. According to the Sessions, these individuals are not a priority for deportation unless they commit crimes, but ultimately all actions are left to the discretion of immigration agents. Before the 6-month expiration date, Congress must decide if they want to pass any legislation that offers any pathway to citizenship. There are mixed feelings even within the President’s party. “From a Republican Party point of view, this is a defining moment,” stated Senator Lindsey Graham, “You have a chance to show the nation, as the president of all of us, where your heart’s at.” White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a press conference, “It’s not cold-hearted for the President to uphold the law.”
Employers are now facing the possibility of losing many professionals including health care providers, engineers, and teachers. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg stated, “This is a sad day for our country. The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it. The young people covered by DACA are our friends and neighbors. They contribute to our communities and to the economy.” The CEOs of Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon all expressed anger, sadness, and a commitment to push Congress for a better solution. Thousands of protesters in Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Phoenix and other cities across the nation gathered to demonstrate their opposition to the announcement. High school students in Denver staged a walk out and joined more activists in the downtown area. Donald Trump, known for his unpredictability may have also offered a possible reconsideration. In a tweet he wrote, “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!”