YOUTH IN REVOLT: DACA

As of September 5th, 2017, approximately 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants received work permits and deportation relief through the DACA Program. This program provided opportunity for  these young people to study or work in the United States – if they met a series of standards. In total, almost 1.1 million unauthorized immigrants are eligible for the program. Spread across the country, California, Texas, Illinois, and New York have the highest respective rates of applicants.

The termination of the DACA program will have a great effect on the nation economically, socially, and politically.

DACA Fact Sheet:

As of September 5th, 2017 President Trump has ordered the repeal of an Obama Era policy under the name of DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Under the initial implementation of DACA in 2012 – 2013, the House of Representatives by in a vote of 224 – 201 (all of the Republican members and three Democrats) voted to defund the program. The vote to defund the program made no change to DACA because the program was not funded by congressional appropriations, but rather by its own application fees.

The requirements to qualify for DACA are intricate and the application fees are extensive. To even apply to the program, an individual must meet the following guidelines:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15th, 2012
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15th, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15th, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action within USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services);
  5. Have no lawful status on June 15th, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED_ certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise post a threat to national security or public safety.

To participate in the program, an individual needs to provide proof of their identity, immigration status, residency in the U.S. before their 16th birthday, residency in the U.S. on June 15th, 2012, proof of continuous residency since 2007, and of student status or honorably discharged veteran status. You have to establish that you are not a criminal or pose a threat to the United States.

Acquiring and correctly filling out these documents is the first step of the process; additionally DACA applicants must pay a minimum of $900 in application fees with little opportunity for fee waivers. If your forms are rejected, there is little to no chance of appealing the decision. An applicant has now given the government all of their personal information, making it easier for them to be deported by INS services.

In repealing the order, President Trump has instituted a six month delay to give Congress an opportunity to appropriate funding towards DACA, which to reiterate was initially struck down by the entire Republican section of the House of Representatives. Congressional allocation has not been used to support the DACA program since 2013.

Current applicants will continue to have their applications processed and can apply for up to a two year deferment on impending deportation, in theory to give them time to apply for other forms of legal citizenship, permits, or visas.

Perspective

The Executive Order from President Obama to implement the DACA program came in part because of the unwillingness to co-govern and growing animosity between the Republican and Democratic parties. The initial order spurred an ethical debate about the scope of executive powers and if the president should really have the ability to alter immigration policy. Immigration policy is typically monitored by Congress due to Article I, Section 8 clause 4 of the Constitution which denotes the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” to Congress.

Yet there has been and will always be a struggle between the Federal and State governments. The struggle and fight has now shifted into the factions of the Federal government fighting amongst themselves, driven by fear of losing the support of constituents.

President Obama created an Executive Order to establish the DACA program which was almost immediately condemned by the entire Republican side of the House of Representatives, exampled by the vote to defund the program. Yet the program survived through a financial loophole. President Trump used the same executive power to order the end of the DACA program, leaving the same Congressional loophole that previously failed as a sort of “last resort” option for supporters of the program.

Now approximately 800,000 Dreamers have given their information in its entirety to the federal government making mass deportations easier. By going back and forth on policy that affects the daily lives of individuals, specifically individuals who are largely well meaning citizens working towards economic, social, and fiscal improvement.

These individuals were brought to this country as children and sometimes as infants. Many of them don’t speak any language besides English. They are just as American as the next “legally” born citizen, and they are and will be apart of the future of this country. To take them from their homes and lives is beyond cruel, it is antithetical to core values of the American belief system.

Arguments in favor of the DACA repeal often site unfounded fiscal concerns and xenophobic tendencies. Furthermore the exclusion of these individuals brought here as children directly – if you view the Constitution through an inclusive lense which is historically only a recent view – is in direct violation of the Equal Protection Clause or Section 1 of Amendment 14.

The clause reads as follows:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

This leaves for interpretation two main questions: Firstly, at what point does an individual become under the jurisdiction of the state? If a person obtains a speeding ticket in Oklahoma but is a resident of Washington, they still must pay the ticket to Oklahoma yet they remain a resident of Washington. Where do the boundaries end and what is the minimum time that one must take from their life to claim their American status? Secondly, when does naturalization occur, and is there a direct cut off? How could a child brought here before they can speak, knowing no other life, and raised through the social and educational systems of America be nothing more than naturalized? If two people live together for a long enough period they can claim a common law union because the government does recognize the value of long term human commitment.

The lives of these young immigrants are in the hands of politicians who seem to be unable to compromise. Much like a bird, a government needs both the right and left wings to fly. Retroactively repealing a governmental program from a previous administration in which people have put faith in said program is wrong and antithetical to the Constitution and the core values of the American republic.

As always we are here to encourage a sense of debate and promote the questioning of the world around us. Please comment on the post below with any questions, comments, differences in views, suggestions, or critiques.