On the morning of Tuesday, September 5, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will be rescinded. An Obama administration 2012 executive action, DACA grants temporary legal status and provides 2-year work permits to individuals who were brought to the country as children without immigration documents. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 800,000 immigrants benefit from the program.
Sessions maintained that to best serve the national interest, Congress must determine and enforce a legislative limit on immigration. Claiming that DACA violates the Constitution, he stated, “…it is my duty to ensure that the laws of the United States are enforced and that the Constitutional order is upheld. No greater good can be done for the overall health and well-being of our Republic, than preserving and strengthening the impartial rule of law. Societies where the rule of law is treasured are societies that tend to flourish and succeed.”
Sessions’ statement follows a threat by 10 Republican state officials to sue President Donald Trump over the constitutionality of DACA in the event that the administration did not begin to nullify existing protections under it.
Open Americas strongly condemns this decision and the intolerant sentiment behind it. DACA beneficiaries are our colleagues, friends, and neighbors; they have contributed to American society in countless ways, and continue to do so every day.
To qualify for DACA, applicants must have arrived in the United States before 2007, been 15 years old or younger at that time, be enrolled in school, and have no criminal record. Integrated in their communities, many DACA recipients have no memory of a country other than the United States, and many do not even speak the official language of their country of origin. A 2017 study conducted by Tom Wong found that 25 percent of DACA recipients have at least one child born in the United States and 73 percent have an immediate family member who is a US citizen. Further, annual earnings increased 80% under DACA, pointing to its role in fostering upward mobility.
In his statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed DACA takes jobs from American workers, but many US companies have spoken out supporting the immigration program and calling on Congress to pass the Dream Act. Currently, 97 percent of immigrants protected under DACA are in school or the workforce, and it is estimated that the cost of ending the program would be around $6.3 billion due to worker turnover. Additionally, according to FWD.us, the United States will lose $460.3 million in national GDP and $24.6 billion from Medicare and Social Security tax contributions. Big businesses, congresspeople, and US citizens have spoken out against repealing DACA and now the fate of 800,000 immigrants rests in the hands of the US Congress.
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