Trump Administration Ends DACA, Creating Uncertainty for Hundreds of Thousands of Children and FamiliesChildren of Immigrants
Earlier this week, the Trump Administration announced that it would be ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program which has been in place since August of 2012.
DACA has been a beacon of hope to many young undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children. The program’s recipients represent some of the country’s most innovative, giving and talented individuals our nation has to offer.
The Trump Administration’s decision to phase out the DACA program is sending waves of frustration, fear, anxiety and outrage amongst families and children affected. According to the Department of Homeland Security, only those individuals who have pending applications with USCIS before September 5, 2017 will be processed, and those whose permit expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018 may apply for a renewal by October 5, 2017. This means that countless individuals whose DACA permit expires after next March have no viable options for legal status unless Congress legislatively creates a pathway for them.
DACA recipients are individuals who came to the United States before their 16th birthday, were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 and are currently in school, graduated from high school, received a GED or are serving in the armed forces of the United States. DACA eligibility expressly prohibits those who have been convicted of a felony or specific misdemeanors from gaining status. The young individuals who have DACA status are model immigrants and have already jumped through significant hoops to have temporary legal status.
Perhaps the harshest result of this announcement is that if Congress doesn’t act, families will be torn apart. Young people who have been in the United States for decades and who do not know any other country as their home could be forced to leave. This includes parents of American citizen children. Over 25% of DACA recipients have American citizen children, according to a survey conducted by the University of California, San Diego which amounts to nearly 200,000 children. Furthermore, the survey finds that 16.6% of DACA recipients have American citizen spouses and 58.9% an American citizen sibling. Rescinding DACA poses severe threats to countless families, and is already causing trauma and stress for children in these families as they wonder whether their parents may be deported in the new future.
The Trump Administration’s announcement creates a sense of urgency in passing a permanent legislative solution for Dreamers and current DACA recipients. First Focus Campaign for Children supports the passage of the bipartisan Dream Act, which would create a path for permanent status for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. The sooner this legislation is passed into law the sooner families can rest easy and focus on what’s important- reaching their educational and career goals and achieving the American Dream.