Trump threatens DACA, 800,000 undocumented immigrants at risk


Eric Fang

Protesters gather in Seattle’s Hing Hay Park to protest in favor of keeping the DACA program and protecting illegal immigrants from deportation. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with attorney generals and a governor from nine other states, gave President Trump an ultimatum to terminate the DACA program, an initiative which protects illegal immigrants who came to the United States when they were 16 or younger from deportation, before Sept. 5.

by Nicole Chen and Prameela Kottapalli

President Donald Trump ordered an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, a policy that protects approximately 800,000 young immigrants from deportation.

The announcement was made by President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department last Tuesday.

Trump tentatively plans to leave DACA intact for six months in order to give Congress time to come to a legislative consensus. On Sept. 5, he released a tweet announcing his intention to revisit the administrative decision after the six-month period if Congress fails to find a policy solution.

Established by the Obama administration, DACA allows undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors to stay in the country. While the policy does not grant permanent legal status, it offers childhood arrivals access to a variety of renewable rights, such as work eligibility and deferred action from deportation.

“Overall, I would say that [ending DACA] is not a really good move on [Trump’s] part, and I think it negatively affects the good of society in our country,” Brian Park (11) said.

Although the DACA act only extends these rights to a portion of the undocumented immigrant population, over 800,000 estimated childhood arrivals–recognized as DREAMERS–have been able to legally acquire work permits and other documents under the program’s protection since its implementation in 2012. Once the program ends in six months, the DREAMERS’ protection from deportation will expire, preventing them from being able to apply for permanent residence and to re-obtain authorization to enter the workforce.

“They’re fleeing from conditions and they’re willing to come here and work hard and do right by this country in exchange for an opportunity,” Juan Escalante, digital campaigns manager of activist think tank America’s Voice and Venezuelan immigrant, said. “[DACA] has benefited countless people across the country.”

Many DREAMERS are currently college students, with DACA’s protection permitting them to enroll in universities and obtain various forms of higher education and, later on, employment. On Sept. 8, the University of California filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over its rescindment of the DACA program.

“As a result of the Defendants’ actions, the Dreamers face expulsion from the only country that they call home, based on nothing more than unreasoned executive whim,” the suit states. “The University faces the loss of vital members of its community… It is hard to imagine a decision less reasoned, more damaging, or undertaken with less care.”

Since the executive branch released its decision, demonstrations have broken out across the country, with protesters urging the Trump administration to keep the DACA act in place. In addition, numerous high-profile politicians, business executives and activists have expressed their opinions on Trump’s decision.

“This is a sad day for our country,” Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, wrote on his Facebook page. “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.”