The End of DACA and What It Might Mean

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The announcement is supposed to happen at 8 am PDT today, the long-expected announcement that President Trump will be ending DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) within six months.

The Marshall Project’s Julia Preston writes, “If President Trump was aggravated by the legal challenges to his travel ban, wait until he takes on the young immigrants who call themselves Dreamers. He is likely to face a far bigger storm of opposition in the courts and also in the streets if he decides to shut down a program that has given protection from deportation to nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children.”

On Friday, Speaker Paul Ryan called on the president to allow Congress to work on a legislative solution and leave the program in place.  Polling shows that DACA has deep support in the country and touches directly many constituencies.

Ms. Preston writes, “Trump will also confront the Dreamers themselves, who are the most sympathetic group of undocumented immigrants, since they mostly came with their parents when they were young. They have also become the most organized and combative among immigrant groups.”

Ms. Preston concludes that the president has the legal right to cancel or curtail the program, but any action he takes will bring with it legal and political headaches.

In an Op-Ed yesterday in the New York Times, UC Davis Law Professor Rose Cuison Villazor writes that “it’s unclear what ending DACA in six months means.”

Two things are clear, she writes.  “First, the government must continue to treat current DACA recipients as people with deferred action, who should not be removed unless they violate the terms of DACA. The Department of Homeland Security has its own standard operating procedures that specify the process of how one’s particular DACA approval may be rescinded. The government must continue to comply with its own guidelines and not revoke a person’s deferral arbitrarily.”

Second, “what the government does with the information Dreamers gave it as part of their application — information that amounts to an admission of their having entered the country illegally, albeit without their knowledge, since they were children at the time. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, which administers DACA, should delete all their information.”

She writes, “Applicants gave that information with the assurance that it would not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement or Customs and Border Enforcement, the agencies that otherwise would be charged with deporting them.”

The professor later adds, “This is information that Dreamers would not have given the government without such nondisclosure assurances. They thought they could trust the government. In fact, in some cases lawyers advised clients who were considering applying not to, precisely, they said, because the government couldn’t be trusted.”

Bret Stephens last week in the Times authored what could be seen as a conservative case for DACA.

“A common American conceit is that we attract brilliant foreigners because we have brilliant things: great universities, vast financial resources, a dynamic economy, high-tech,” he writes.  Instead, he argues that “gets things mostly backward. It’s because we have brilliant foreigners that we have those things in the first place. Google. Comcast. eBay. Kraft. Pfizer. AT&T. They all had immigrants as founders.”

He points out, “Overall, a 2016 study by the Partnership for the New American Economy found that 40 percent of all Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Taken together they employed 19 million people and had revenues of $4.8 trillion.

“Opponents of a liberal immigration policy often insist they welcome legal immigrants and only object to illegal ones. Rubbish. The immigration reform bill introduced in Congress this year by Republicans Tom Cotton and David Perdue and endorsed by Donald Trump aims to cut legal immigration by half.”

He continues: “Should it make any difference to WhatsApp’s billion-plus users that Koum arrived in the United States legally? And if it turned out that he hadn’t, should he be required to leave the country, presumably so he can pay income tax — and create jobs — in his native Ukraine?

“That would be self-defeating,” he continues.  “But it’s the fate that may soon await 800,000 or so young people who were brought without visas to the United States as children, grew up in the country, in some cases only speak English, and now face deportation because the Trump administration seems poised to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program that allowed them to stay in school or their jobs.”

Mr. Stephens argues, “The nativist wing of the right thinks DACA is unconstitutional. That’s not clear, though it would be on firmer legal ground if Congress turned DACA into law by passing Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin’s Dream Act. In the meantime, allowing these young dreamers to stay is ordinary humanity and enlightened policy. If just 10 of those 800,000 turn into future Jan Koums, the program will have more than paid for itself.”

He adds, “It isn’t the whole truth to say that immigrants come to our shores because of our wealth. They also come in hope of being welcomed by a country whose astounding faith in human possibility includes a faith in them, however poor, unkempt — or even undocumented — they may sometimes be.”

He concludes, “Lose that faith, and lose what’s best about America, too.”

In a piece the Vanguard ran last week, California AG Xavier Becerra wrote, “Due to either a misunderstanding of our laws and traditions or a cynical decision to overlook them, some want to end the highly successful DACA initiative. They’re threatening to sue the Trump administration if the president does not rescind DACA. But their efforts are out of step with the views of most Americans, or even of most of President Trump’s supporters. Nearly 8 in 10 voters support allowing Dreamers to remain permanently in the United States, including almost three-quarters of President Trump’s voters. At a time when immigration stokes passions on both sides, most agree that young people should be off-limits.”

He continues: “Donald Trump and I don’t agree on much. But we can all agree that Dreamers who benefit from the DACA initiative are ‘incredible kids’ and that we should treat them ‘with heart,’ as the President has said. Instead of frightening young people, we should help them succeed. After all, our children are this nation’s most precious natural resource. Why would we expel budding innovators and entrepreneurs to another country and let them boost that economy instead of our own? Why would we deprive our military of committed servicemembers who would help keep us safe?

“Any policy that harms Dreamers harms all of us. It’s time for President Trump to follow through on his promise to Dreamers and protect this lawful initiative that’s consistent with America’s dearest values.”

Finally, SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi adds in: “The elimination of the DACA program will potentially affect thousands of young and productive San Franciscans who were brought to this country as children. Ending DACA means risking deportation and restricting access to higher education for more than 800,000 Dreamers across the country.

“We must act immediately to provide both legal and community assistance to those who are most at risk of losing their legal status to remain in our country, including DACA beneficiaries.”



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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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