By Thomas Behnke
On Sept. 5, the White House issued a statement through Attorney General Jeff Sessions that it was formally rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The policy, introduced by President Obama in 2012, allowed undocumented immigrant minors to receive two-year renewable deferments against deportation and the ability to apply for a work permit. According to the Brookings Institution, nearly three-quarters of DACA applicants have lived in the United States for at least ten years and nearly one-third were age five or younger at arrival. The decision to terminate the program is expected to impact up to 800,000 people nationwide, including DACA applicants and their families.
The updated policy ends acceptance of DACA applicants, though the administration has stated that applications and renewals currently being processed will be honored. Deportation procedures have been delayed for six months to give congress time to find an alternative solution to those with DACA status.
In a statement released on Sept. 6, Lehman President José Luis Cruz wrote to the Lehman community, “The six-month stay of execution of the DACA program does not do justice to the hard work of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated young people whose undocumented status is simply an artifact of our country’s long-standing role as a beacon of hope. It is now up to Congress to choose national values over political expediency. Extending permanent legal status to our nation’s dreamers is the only path forward.”
Polls suggest that national support for DACA transcends party allegiances. While Sessions stated that “the American people have rightly rejected” an open border policy, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows 84 percent of Democrats, 74 percent of Independents, and 69 percent of Republicans oppose deporting DACA immigrants, or Dreamers.
On the Lawrence O’Donnell show on Sept. 5 Senator Kamala Harris, (D-Ca.), whose state is home to the most Dreamers nationwide, refuted the president’s assertion that ending DACA would save American jobs. “It is well documented that if we rescind DACA and do not pass DACA statutorily, we will lose 700,000 jobs in the United States and over the next ten years we could lose 60 billion in tax dollars.” She also criticized the misrepresentation of Dreamers, saying, “These young people qualify for DACA because they cleared a vetting where there was a very, very intense process of looking into their backgrounds...only then do they receive DACA status.”
The Lehman DREAM Team told the Meridian, “It’s up to us now to make history.” They added, “No documents, no problem. We’ll continue to fight and work hard to better our community. United we stand; we won’t leave our community alone.”