Following up on his successful ploy to own the long-weekend news cycle with his usual tactic of teasing an announcement to get everyone talking about it before it happens, Donald Trump announced today that he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program on March 5, 2018. DACA has allowed around 800,000 people brought to America as children without proper documentation to remain in the United States and obtain work permits under these conditions:
DACA allowed individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children or teens before mid-2007 to apply for protection from deportation and work permits if they met certain requirements. Beneficiaries had to be under the age of 16 upon entering the country; no older than 31 as of June 15, 2012; lived continuously in the U.S. since mid-2007; be enrolled in high school or college, already have a diploma or degree, have a GED certificate or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military; and have no felony criminal convictions, significant misdemeanor convictions, no more than three other misdemeanor convictions or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety [Vanessa Romo et al., “Trump Ends DACA, Calls on Congress to Act,” NPR, 2017.09.05].
As NPR explains, President Barack Obama implemented DACA to fill the gap left by Congress’s inaction. Attorney General Jeff Sessions calls DACA “unilateral executive amnesty” and says “we cannot admit everyone who would like to come here.”
It’s not amnesty when young immigrants have to reapply every two years for a mere work permit and still can’t get legal immigration status or citizenship in the country in which they grew up.
DACA isn’t admitting any new immigrants; it only applies to those who came here as kids before mid-2007 and have been here since, getting an education and quite possibly working and contributing to our society.
And if Jeff Sessions thinks America needs to deport 800,000 young de facto Americans, Jeff Sessions hasn’t studied the workforce shortage that’s plaguing South Dakota and every other aging community in America.
The South Dakota Democratic Party says ending DACA is bad policy:
Today, the Trump administration turned its back on hard-working immigrant families and students. Rescinding DACA will force thousands of immigrants back into the shadows, tear families and communities apart, and be a devastating blow to the nearly 800,000 young immigrants who only know this country as their home. As a result of this cruel and short-sighted action, Trump and Republicans are choosing to further divide our country, create fear in our communities, and even hurt our economy.
Donald Trump’s actions today are cruel and bend to the wishes of extremist Republicans in his own party. Democrats proudly stand by the 252 DACA beneficiaries in South Dakota and believe that America’s biggest strength is our diversity. We will continue to work to fix our broken immigration system, and the most important step in doing that is supporting the DREAMers who are contributing to our nation’s economy – including over $12 million in South Dakota alone – and were brought to this country by no fault of their own. We urge Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem to act and support legislation in Congress to protect our DREAMers and keep our communities safe [Sam Parkinson, South Dakota Democratic Party executive director, press release, 2017.09.05].
The ACLU agrees:
Five years ago, the federal government made a deal with immigrant youth: As long as you pass a criminal background check you can live, study, and work here. Hundreds of thousands of young people came out of the shadows and accepted the government’s offer in good faith and worked hard to build their lives here.
Today, the government and President Trump went back on their word, threw the lives and futures of 800,000 Dreamers and their families into disarray, and injected chaos and uncertainty into thousands of workplaces and communities across America.
In South Dakota, over 250 of our neighbors used their DACA status to give back to our country in innumerable ways: they are our doctors, soldiers, and students. Our neighbors, family, and friends.
Now, the fate of 800,000 young adults, who call this country their home, lies in the hands of Congress. Lawmakers such as Representative Noem, Senator Thune, and Senator Rounds must decide if they are on the side of Dreamers and our country’s foundation, or on the side of the ugly forces that helped to end DACA.
While this is a hard day for the immigrant community and America as a whole, we will continue to fight. Years of courage, sacrifices, and organizing won the DACA program in 2012. Nothing will deter these Americans and our allies in South Dakota and across the country from continuing to fight on behalf of their futures and holding those responsible accountable [Heather Smith, ACLU of South Dakota executive director, press release, 2017.09.05].
I haven’t heard where our members of Congress stand yet, but yesterday, Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma said the United States “does not hold children accountable for the actions of their parents.” With Trump taking another whack at the Obama tree today, Senator Lankford needs to talk to Senators Thune, Rounds, and their colleagues to prevent such unjust punishment of children for parents’ crimes.
South Dakota Voices for Peace says Trump’s DACA announcement ruins the first day of school for many young immigrants in Sioux Falls. Voices for Peace will hold a Vigil for Solidarity for the young almost-Americans affected by this purely political decision this evening from 7:30 to 8:30 Central in Meldrum Park (1708 East 6th Street) in Sioux Falls.
Indivisible Rapid City is hosting a demonstration calling on Congress to save DACA this afternoon from 4:00 to 5:00 Mountain near the USCIS office at 2255 Haines Avenue in Rapid City.