DACA, DREAMers, and the American Dream

Unknown photgrapher

DREAMers gnaw at their fingernails in anxiety, as the very policy which protects them from deportation from their self-achieved livelihoods stands trial against penalty of death.

Over the course of many years, many immigrants have crossed the southern border into America. The children brought over by these immigrants have been under the protection of an Obama-era policy, but they are now at risk as potential for the elimination of the policy reigns high.

These children, often referred to as the ‘DREAMers’, short for “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors”, are currently protected against deportation by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. In order to be eligible for DACA, the child of an illegal immigrant must have arrived in the U.S. under the age of 16 and have been a resident of the nation since June 15, 2007. They must also be in school, college, or have completed high school or an approved equivalent, as well as having no criminal record. Around 800,000 individuals are currently protected. The policy has allowed these individuals to obtain drivers’ licenses, apply for college, legally work, and pay taxes.

DACA previously protected recipients for two years, after which they could re-apply. However, the Trump Administration brought an end to applications in September, when President Trump announced that if Congress did not Vote to extend DACA by March 5, 2018, the policy would come to a formal end. That said, applications received by September 5, 2017, and renewal applications by October 5, 2017, will still be processed, and DACA-issued work permits will be honored until expiration.

Under the protections and opportunities offered by DACA, a myriad of young immigrants across the nation have been able to become active members of society, showing that, with the right amount of determination and motivation, immigrants can be just as successful as native-born American citizens. Because they were brought to the United States by their parents, likely for opportunities not available in many Latin-American nations, many DACA recipients may have larger incentives to succeed, perhaps more so than some native-borns, and may work excessively hard to achieve their goals.

President Trump and many others in support of repealing DACA claim that immigrants are taking jobs away from native-born American citizens. While it is true immigrants may be taking up numerous jobs, most of those jobs that native-borns do not want or do not seek. A large majority of these are manual labor intensive, having employees work tirelessly in fields or factories. To say that native-born citizens would flock to these jobs in the absence of migrant workers might very well be a misstatement, given that the reason so many openings in these kinds of jobs are available to immigrants due to a pre-existing lack of interest for Americans. Furthermore, of the individuals under DACA, approximately 92 percent are in the workforce in white collar careers.

The DREAMers have also had a substantial impact on the American economy. With over 90 percent of DACA recipients having an income more than double the minimum wage, there results a great many taxpayers with positive return. Removing these immigrants from the workforce could create a substantial hole in tax revenue, one which may have considerably negative impacts on the economy. Forcing businesses to fire such a mass amount of workers would result in an estimated loss of $6.3 billion, eliminating jobs and shrinking the economy.

Not only would repealing DACA have negative impacts on the economy and punish hard working, contributing individuals, but it would create discontent among much of the U.S. population. Numerous polls show results between 70 and 80 percent of Americans support amnesty for DACA immigrants. This transcends even party lines, with about three-quarters of Republicans in support of the policy. Many view recipients to be just as American as native-born citizens, which, given the immigrants’ societal and economical contributions, as well as their success, practically are. To break a promise which these individuals have worked so hard to earn would be a disservice and an insult to the American Dream – namely, opportunity.

Should DACA be dismantled, the dreamers, despite their efforts and aspirations to succeed or their contributions to society, thus enabling the former recipients to be legally deported, the United States will take a great insult, not just to its economy, but to its heart and what it stands for. Moreso, however, the nation will have lost a great many individuals who give their livelihood to live free, prosperous, and contributive lives and fulfill the conquest those who first came to what is now the United States of America came to achieve. It is for these reasons that DACA must be allowed to stay.