Image Credits: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced today the Trump Administration’s plan to recede Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. DACA was an executive order issued by then-President Barack Obama in 2012. The program allows nearly 800,000 people, known as Dreamers, who were brought to the country illegally as children to undergo a process and obtain permits to work, study and live legally in the U.S.

“As I’ve said before, we will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion — but through the lawful democratic process — while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve,” President Trump said in a statement, “We must also have heart and compassion for unemployed, struggling and forgotten Americans.”

The Trump administration said permits will be renewed for anyone whose status expires in the next six months. According to administration officials, no one’s DACA status will be revoked before it expires. This gives Congress time to act before DACA recipients begin losing their status on March 5, 2018.

The decision to end DACA has launched a national conversation.

Some DACA supporters argue that it’s immoral to deport people who are American in every sense except their citizenship status. They believe that DACA recipients should not be held responsible for the actions of their parents or be deported to an unfamiliar country.

Other supporters of DACA point to the economic benefits of Dreamers in the U.S. The loss of DACA would cost employers across the country over $3 billion in turnover cost. It would cause the U.S. to lose an estimated $460 billion from the national GDP in the next decade. The loss of Dreamers-paid taxes would cut Medicare and Social Security by an estimated $25 billion in over ten years.

However, many people, like Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), believe the policy had good intentions, but should not have been implemented by the overreach of an executive order.

“This policy, while well-intentioned, was implemented without the approval of Congress by a president who exceeded his authority under the Constitution,” Cornyn’s statement says, “This president now has the chance to work with Congress towards finding a solution to this issue where his predecessor failed.”

Opponents of DACA believe that upholding the program would reward illegal immigrants and potentially lead to an increase in illegal immigration. Some opponents point to situations in which a U.S. citizen was harmed or killed by an illegal immigrant or Dreamer.

Other opponents believe that the 685,000 jobs occupied by Dreamers should be available to legal U.S. citizens. Some also argue that illegal immigration leads to increased human trafficking and modern slavery.

Two bills in Congress have proposed alternative means of addressing the Dreamers’ situations.

The Dream Act, a bipartisan effort sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would offer a path to earned citizenship for Dreamers who meet certain requirements. These requirements include a high school diploma or GED; intent to pursue higher education, work lawfully for three or more years or serve in the military; background checks; proficiency in English and U.S. history; and no felony or other serious crime record.

An alternative, the Raise Act, is sponsored by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA). The bill would cut the family-based legal immigration system by 85 percent. This would cause an overall 50 percent drop in legal immigration. The Raise Act does not add any additional employment visas and establishes a “points” system within the existing employment-based immigration system.

There is little doubt among most voters that the immigration system is in need of comprehensive reform. If you have an opinion about DACA that you’d like to share, be sure to contact your Congressional representatives. You can find the most effective ways to contact them here.

Tori G