The Right to Dream

Nikita Bhardwaj, Staff Writer

Is it fair to be held accountable for another person’s actions? Is it right to uproot a child’s life over something they had no control over? These questions are at the center of the raging debate surrounding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an immigration policy instituted by President Barack Obama in June, 2012. DACA does not provide a path to citizenship for its recipients, but rather offers Dreamers, minors brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents, a renewable two year period of delayed action from deportation, giving them a chance to legally obtain a work permit. In the years since DACA was passed, over 800,000 Dreamers have been protected from deportation. In doing so, they were prevented from being forcibly ripped from all they had ever known.

Despite stating on multiple occasions that he would deal with DACA “with great heart” and that Dreamers “shouldn’t be very worried,” President Donald Trump made the decision to rescind the DACA policy on April 23rd, 2018. After the removal of DACA, hundreds of thousands of Dreamers were put in jeopardy, constantly at the risk of being deported. Anyone who was brought to the country illegally as a minor, no matter how innocent, was subject to deportation.

#DefendDACA galvanized internet users across America to fight against the shutdown of Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals. Dreamers are children who know no other country, who were brought to America by their parents and have no other home. They do not deserve to be mercilessly kicked out of America and warrant as much respect as a law-abiding U.S. citizen. “They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” President Obama said in announcing the DACA policy. A study found that the average age of DACA recipients when they immigrated to the U.S. was only 6.5 years old. Many of these Dreamers are so young that they never truly knew life in their homeland. Deporting one of them to Mexico, Cuba, or possibly unfamiliar developing country is no less harsh than deporting an American citizen.  

Getting rid of Dreamers would have a significant harmful impact on American economy. DACA recipients run businesses, earn above minimum-wage salaries, and contribute to the economy just as much as American citizens do. A recent study shows that 91% of DACA recipients are working, and their average wages increased by 70% since the program began. Ending DACA would upend their lives. Research shows that if the termination of the policy moves forward, a total of about 1,700 DACA recipients will be removed from the workforce per business day from March 6th to November 6th. The U.S. government will lose millions of dollars if DACA’s rescission is allowed to continue.

Following the decision to end DACA, President Trump faced reprisal from federal judge, John Bates. Bates described DACA’s rescission as “arbitrary,” and said Trump’s justification was “virtually unexplained.” Bates gave the Trump administration 90 days (until July 23, 2018) to provide a more compelling defense as to why Trump shut down DACA, otherwise Bates would order its restoration. “DACA’s rescission was arbitrary and capricious because the Department failed adequately to explain its conclusion that the program was unlawful,” Bates wrote.

DACA has been remarkably advantageous to the U.S., allowing over 800,000 individuals to live, work, and contribute to the economy. Repealing DACA was a mistake, and it is urgent that Congress act to ensure that Dreamers are not ripped from their lives for no good reason.