Editorial: Ten years of limbo. DACA recipients need permanent relief now.
On Sunday, President Trump announced that he would end the program that protects some 700,000 illegals known as “Dreamers” from deportation. DACA was created as a backstop after Congress voted to protect those illegals in 2012. The program protected those young people, many of whom were brought to the U.S. as infants, from deportation to countries that were not of their choice.
DACA was controversial from the start. Many Republicans and conservative Democrats argued that there should be no DACA because it was essentially temporary and should be terminated when the Dreamers were 18. That’s the age of majority. The issue has gotten much press since then as a matter of politics, but there are many economic benefits to keeping DACA in place.
Some conservatives, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have been staunch supporters of DACA. Rubio even argued before the United Nations in September for the United States to take the lead on protecting the Dreamers because “we’re not a nation of walls.”
In addition to those economic benefits, there are important human rights issues to consider. For undocumented immigrants, even legal immigration is often seen as a choice, not a right. The DACA program provided protections to young people who chose to come to the U.S. when they were underage. They could have been deported after they came of age.
There’s a good reason that the DACA program has been in effect for so long that we call it temporary. The Department of Homeland Security has issued 538 DACA renewal applications since the program started in 2012. The numbers are staggering. In the last fiscal year alone, 800,000 people received DACA extension, while another 600,000 received DACA renewal in 2014.
That’s more than half of the total illegal immigrants who received work visas. So the DACA program has offered legal protections to roughly 1.18 million immigrant youth, many of whom decided that they want to live here. They need to be protected from deportation and, as they grow