This morning, the White House (under the direction of Trump) announced that it is ending DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era initiative that grants work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
The move impacts around 800,000 children and young adults, but gives Congress a six-month window to act.
As a quick primer: DACA began in mid-2012 and provided deferred action and a chance to work to those who came to the U.S. before their 16th birthdays; were under 31 as of June 15, 2012; had no criminal past; and were either in school or had completed high school.
The program provides some relief for undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S., beyond their control, by their parents. (Full disclosure: I was formerly an undocumented youth, though I did not participate in DACA.)
DACA notably does not provide a pathway to legal status and requires renewals every two years.
And as Daily Beast reporter Betsy Woodruff explains in this Twitter thread (read the whole thing), the kids who benefited from DACA are now “incredibly vulnerable” because they had to explain to the government in their applications just how they became undocumented and trust the government “in a rare, extraordinary way,” believing that the U.S. would not use that information against them.
1/ One of the reasons DACA recipients are now incredibly vulnerable: In deportation proceedings, the gov must prove someone is undocumented
— Betsy Woodruff (@woodruffbets) September 4, 2017
What further action the Trump administration will endorse is still unclear; Washington Post sources said the White House will slowly phase out the program so that Congress can pass an alternative program to help DACA recipients.
Online, reaction to the idea of ending the initiative has been strong.
“For an Administration marked by indifference to plight of others, today hit rock bottom, ending protection for a bunch of kids. #DACA,” tweeted Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.)
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) September 4, 2017
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state would sue.
New York will not demonize diversity.
We will not stand by as 42,000 NYers are deported.
If President Trump rescinds #DACA, we will sue.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) September 4, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook, one of dozens of business leaders who spoke out in favor of preserving the program, tweeted to his 6.27 million followers that 250 Apple employees are so-called Dreamers – the term used by undocumented youth – and “deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values.”
250 of my Apple coworkers are #Dreamers. I stand with them. They deserve our respect as equals and a solution rooted in American values.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) September 3, 2017
Disney CEO Bob Iger echoed the sentiment.
Rescinding DACA is cruel and misguided. Dreamers contribute to our economy and our nation. Congress must act fast to protect them!
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) September 5, 2017
Proponents of the program say DACA participants contribute a great deal to the country, and not just through income taxes. On Friday, BuzzFeed highlighted the story of Jesus Contreras, a DACA recipient who spent six straight days rescuing those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“Hearing that my future in the United States is being threatened and possibly taken away was disheartening, it was disappointing,” he told BuzzFeed. “It was like getting an extra kick to the face when you’re already down.”
Today and into the week, activists and immigration groups are protesting across the country. Many are calling on Congress to legislate protections for Dreamers, along with encouraging constituents to pressure their elected representatives to support related bills in both the Senate and the House.