Over 4,500 Filipino beneficiaries
THE Trump administration has decided to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) on Tuesday, September 5, an action that will affect nearly 800,000 people brought to the United States illegally as children.
“I do not favor punishing children, most of whom are now adults, for the action of their parents,” said President Donald Trump in a Tuesday statement. “But we must also recognize that we are [a] nation of opportunity because we are a nation of laws.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made an official announcement early Tuesday that the Trump administration has decided to end the DACA program that gave protection to “DREAMers” who came to the country illegally from being deported.
In the formal statement, Sessions called the Obama-era program an executive overreach and said that through DACA, the executive branch “deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”
Sessions explained that the program had “denied jobs to hundreds and thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”
“We cannot admit everyone who would like to come here,” said Sessions. “That is an open border policy and the American people have rightly rejected it.”
“This does not mean they are bad people, or that our nation disrespects or demeans them in any way. It means we are properly enforcing our laws as Congress has passed them,” he added.
The program’s roll back is set to happen in six months, according to Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, who called the decision the “least disruptive option.”
Duke said that no DACA beneficiaries will be affected before March 5, 2018, but made clear that “no new initial requests or associated applications filed after today will be acted on.”
As the program winds down, current DACA holders will be allowed to retain their DACA benefits until they expire — DACA benefits are valid for two years from issuance. Those whose benefits expire before March 5 of next year, will be eligible to renew their DACA status if applications are received before October 5, 2017.
According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), roughly 201,000 individuals are set to have their DACAs and accompanied employment authorization documents (EAD) expire this year. Of those individuals, over 55,000 have already submitted renewal requests.
Over 800,000 individuals have been protected under DACA. According to the non-profit organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles (Advancing Justice – LA), over 16,000 DACA recipients are of Asian descent from South Korea, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. Over 4,500 recipients came from the Philippines.
The Trump administration was put under pressure in late June as 10 Republican state attorneys general, led by Texas’ Ken Paxton, threatened to sue the administration if it did not phase out DACA by a set Sept. 5 deadline. Tennessee left the coalition last Friday, leaving Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.
Advocates of DACA have been actively vocal leading up to the final decision. Social media tags #DefendDACA and #HereToStay shared concerns and personal stories of undocumented immigrants.
Hundreds of DACA supporters and recipients rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 4 in support of continuing the program.
Last Thursday, over 400 chief executives from companies including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google urged Trump and his administration to preserve DACA in an open letter.
“As entrepreneurs and business leaders, we are concerned about new developments in immigration policy that threaten the future of young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children,” read the letter.
DACA recipient and AAJC-LA policy advocate on immigrant rights, Anthony Ng, told Asian Journal prior to the decision that the organization would continue protecting the immigrant community and “preparing for anything our community needs.”
Reviving the DREAM Act
As Trump ends DACA, many advocates are looking to push Congress into passing immigration reform that would continue to protect immigrants like DACA recipients.
“It is incumbent upon our Senators and Representatives to enact a permanent legislative solution that would once and for all protect our DACA recipients and place them on a pathway to citizenship,” Advancing Justice – LA said in a press release, urging Congress to pass the DREAM Act.
Former President Barack Obama introduced the DACA program after Congress failed to pass the “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act” (DREAM Act).
On Tuesday, Obama published a lengthy Facebook post about the move to end his landmark program, calling it “a political decision, and a moral question.”
“To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong,” the former president wrote. “It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel.”
Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.), introduced the latest version of the DREAM Act in July of this year after the bill failed to get enough votes in 2010. Durbin and Republican Senator Orrin Hatch first introduced the bill in 2001. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)