A letter from CU Immigration Forum – Eliminating DACA Program is the wrong way to go

CU Immigration Forum Demands Congress To Create Permanent Solutions For Undocumented Residents

Earlier today, the Trump Administration announced that it was ending the DACA (Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals) program. The C-U Immigration Forum is strongly opposed to this action and stands with the 800,000 young adults across our nation, and in our community, who were protected from deportation under this program.  Although this action by the President was not a surprise, we believe it is both cruel to those affected and unproductive for our country.  

In June of 2012, President Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act, or DACA, in order to allow undocumented persons who had been brought to the US as children — and who were in school, had no serious criminal record, and who posed no threat to national security — to qualify for a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation, and be eligible for a work permit.

Under the guise of a ‘respect for the rule of law’, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would be rescinding this vital program. Those already enrolled in DACA will be able to continue working until their permits expire, and those whose permits expire by March 5 will be permitted to apply for two-year renewals so long as they do so by Oct. 5. But only one in 10 DACA recipients will be eligible under these strict guidelines. This announcement affects several hundred families in Champaign County and tens of thousands in Illinois.

DACA was merely an administrative directive for a policy change to be implemented by the Department of Homeland Security as an exercise of its well established and preexisting authority; it made no one a citizen or a permanent resident.  DACA did not pretend to be a law nor was it a usurpation of Congressional authority as it has often been mischaracterized by its critics. DACA did collect the biographical information, money, and biometrics of almost a million people that had previously not been on the records.

Unlike the DREAM Act, which was its inspiration, DACA offered no path to citizenship and was intended merely as an intermediate step for young people. By definition, they were primarily raised in the United States and the US is their home; they signed up  to pursue their educational and career potential while they waited for Congress to craft a more permanent legislative fix which specifically addressed their situation. To date there are nearly 800,000 people who participate in this program.

Without immediate Congressional action, the limited security that DACA has provided its beneficiaries will disappear, and with it their ability to provide for themselves and their loved ones. This  casts entire futures into doubt. Along with those crippling economic hardships, these vulnerable persons will now also face the very real possibility of forced repatriation to countries that are for the most part only distant memories to them. For DACA recipients, the US is their home. They share our hopes and dreams — which is why they have long been known as ‘Dreamers’ — and their futures are inextricably bound with ours. In truth we stand or fall together.

The current administration’s attitude towards immigrants disguises bigotry as policy, and with this step the Trump administrations advances violence against immigrants, attacking persons who are fellow citizens in every possible way but name only.

CU Immigration Forum joins its many regional and national partners — and the overwhelming majority of the American people — in demanding that Congress create permanent protections for these vulnerable members of our society and their families. The DREAM Act is only a partial solution and it is time for comprehensive immigration reform to be fully considered transparently by all political and economic parties. Only then can immigrants be assured of their own personal security and be given a renewed hope in the country we collectively call home.

Here are a few ways you can take action:

Participate here:

Attend I-CAUSE Rally on Sept 6.

Visit Congressional Rep. Davis on Sept 20.