On September 5, President Trump announced an end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, turning the nation’s back on 800,000 undocumented young adult immigrants living in the country. The fate of these “Dreamers” now rests in the Republican Congress’ ability to pass legislation within six months.
These young people grew up in the United States. They have attended American schools, learned American values, and experienced American culture. They speak English. They registered with the federal government, submitted to background checks, and worked to obtain an education. Some have gone on to raise families of their own, volunteer to serve in our military, and/or start their own businesses. Under DACA, these young people have been given the opportunity to pursue their dreams, live without fear of deportation from the country they call home, and invest in their future and in the future of our country.
DACA is the product of Congress’ inability to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act). The DREAM Act was first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001, and it has languished in Congress for 16 years. The DREAM Act was to offer a permanent solution by allowing “Dreamers” to eventually earn citizenship if they go to college, maintain a job, or serve in the U.S. military. It came closest to passing as legislation in 2010. Back then, the House passed it, but the Senate came up five votes short. The absence of that legislation is what led to President Obama announcing the creation of the DACA policy in June 2012 as a temporary solution.
Although both are designed to allow children of illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. to get their work authorizations, Social Security number, and driver’s license, only the DREAM Act, as previously written, would enable these young immigrants to obtain a green card as long as they met certain requirements.
- Proof of arriving in the U.S before age 16
- Proof of U.S. residency for at least 5 consecutive years
- Registering for the Selective Service
- Being between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of the enactment of the bill
- Graduating from an American High School, obtaining a GED, or being admitted into an institution of higher learning.
Trump said repeatedly during his presidential campaign that he would end DACA immediately upon becoming president, arguing it was unconstitutional. He also spoke often about “Dreamers” in a vague but positive way, even hinting at support for them. Earlier this year, Trump said he would “show great heart″ toward them, and in April he said Dreamers should “rest easy” because his focus was on deporting criminals.
According to a NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll, nearly two-thirds of all Americans support DACA. Does that mean Congress will step in and help protect “Dreamers” before DACA expires? Hard to say with only six months left and juggling several other major issues, including providing disaster funding for hurricane victims. It is also unclear whether the White House would buy in without major concessions on a border wall and immigration enforcement. The six month timeframe also gives President Trump ample time to reverse his decision or decline to follow through. With so much at stake, it is imperative that our voices be heard.
Why should we allow them to stay? Like “Dreamers”, our relatives came to this country in hopes of a better life. Like them, the U.S. is the only home we’ve ever known. While their parents may have made the choice to enter the U.S. illegally or overstay a visa, “Dreamers”, who were children when they arrived, did not make that choice for themselves. There’s no place in American law that penalizes children for the action of their parents. These “Dreamers” deserve an opportunity to be here legally.
Mark Bello has practiced law for 40 years. He is currently the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company. “Betrayal of Faith” is currently available on major online bookstore sites. Please watch for “Betrayal of Justice“, scheduled for release in late summer, early fall. And, for more information on its release and associated activities and events, please join our mailing list for future updates.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.