A decade has already passed since the creation of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It was created on June 15, 2012, by the Barack Obama administration as a temporary stop-gap process to help the tens of thousands of young immigrants who had been brought to the United States by their undocumented parents to get an opportunity to work legally, go to college and travel.
Ten years later, the dream of tens of thousands of legal permanent residents has fast turned into a nightmare, as they now watch thousands of others stream over the border or arrive on planes, boats and buses, and move on to asylum processing. Only grace, a few good judges and the courts has helped the program to survive the Donald Trump administration.
But the threats loom on. The vulnerability of DACA was once again exposed after a conservative New York judge recently refused some Dreamers’ request to order the U.S. to resume accepting applications under the Obama-era program that saves them from deportation.
This comes as DACA and its 800,000 or so recipients hang on by a thread of hope as several other red states mount legal challenges to dismantle the tiny protection. It’s almost like sitting in a house with a hurricane pounding away as the roof threatens to go along with your life.
Having waited ten years to get the New York State Department of Labor to approve my application for labor certification as a skilled immigrant, in order for me to be able to apply for a green card, I know firsthand the stress and anxieties.
Many DACA recipients were high schoolers when they received this reprieve. Now, many have long graduated college and are contributing to the U.S. economy, paying taxes, owning homes, raising children, and being upstanding and needed citizens.
While the New York judge’s decision is heartless; what would be worse is if a three-judge panel in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rules that DACA is “illegal” in the fall.
Regardless of the outcome, it will be appealed to the Supreme Court, which could rule by the summer of 2023, as the lives of thousands of Dreamers remain in an indeterminate state.
For current DACA recipients, they’ll likely have until the expiration of their extension — less than two years — before they lose legal status too. And then what?
It’s irrational and immoral. The American Action Forum recently reported that DACA recipients contribute nearly $42 billion to the U.S.’s annual GDP and have a net positive fiscal impact of $3.4 billion annually.
That’s a huge economic contribution. Further, the report found that more than a quarter of DACA recipients are married, and more than one-third have children. Ninety-nine percent of those children are U.S. citizens while 75,000 have mortgages.
Congress continues to “kick the can” down the road; and so it seems that the Joe Biden administration is now facing a quandary of its own making over the thousands pouring over the border and then being shipped to New York and Washington, creating a nightmare for those cities.
It’s unfortunate that Senate Democrats who managed to get the expansive $739bn “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” were unable to add in legislation to give Dreamers legal status––given the bipartisan support this enjoys.
And so once more, the can is kicked down the road as the lives of thousands hang in the balance as they wait on the constitutional interpretation of three judges and the fake promises of U.S. lawmakers.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.