Prologue: On Tuesday, September 5, President Donald Trump rescinded the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, created by Barack Obama in 2012. This program gave about 800,000 young immigrants legal protection against deportation and the right to work legally. For sixteen long years, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama had tried to get Congress to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It did not happen. Obama finally used the power of an executive order to create DACA, “The Dream Act”. Young immigrants who had been brought by their parents, most under six years of age, could now live without fear of deportation . They could enter college and graduate, join military service, find jobs, buy cars and pay taxes in the years that followed. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women have done just that since 2012.
Donald Trump during his presidential campaign promised to repeal DACA as well as to build a wall against illegal immigration from Mexico. In his very first statement as a candidate, he called illegals from Mexico, “murderers and rapists”. His first Congressional supporter was Senator Jeffrey Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who became a surrogate, at his side during most rallies. Trump chose Sessions to become the Attorney General of The United States when he formed his cabinet. Sessions had a long anti-immigrant history.
The Announcement: On September 5, Trump had Jeff Sessions speak to the ‘Dreamers’ , the nation and the world to deliver the message that DACA was rescinded. Sessions said the DACA program was a lawless policy that “ yielded terrible humanitarian consequences” and denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of American citizens. He called DACA “an unconstitutional exercise of authority” and added, “failure to enforce the laws in the past has put our nation at risk of crime, violence and terrorism.” Trump’s statement, released by the White House, said that he was driven by a concern for “millions of Americans victimized by this unfair system.”
Officials in the administration confirmed that Congress would have six months to come up with a “fix” , a solution for the ‘Dreamers’ future. However, if by March, a solution had not been worked out, they were to prepare for deportation. This stark threat was carried on the crawl on Cable TV into the late hours of the night.
Facts vs. Falsehoods: The Dacca program is legal. Presidents for decades have been setting immigration enforcement priorities. DACA recipients are not threats to public safety. They receive a two year renewable deferral of deportation along with a work permit and eligibility for other government benefits down the road. They are not taking jobs from native born Americans. About 9 in ten are working tax payers. If they were deported, it would reduce the gross domestic product by over $400billion over the next decade. DACA is also strongly popular with the American public. Polls show their approval rating about sixy percent, double that of the president. The Chamber of Commerce called the DACA decision “ contrary to fundamental American values.”
Responses: On September 5, President Obama wrote on Facebook, “Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we want out own kids to be treated.” He also said the decision was “wrong”, “self defeating” and “cruel.” Obama had warned that any threat to the program would cause him to speak out. He has not criticized any other action of his successor.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, wrote on his personal page, “This is a sad day for our country. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the Amierican dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows,and trust out government , and then punish them for it. “
Hours after his statement had been released, Trump told reporters, “I have a love for these people, and hopefully, now Congress will be able to do it properly and help these people.” Yet, he did not endorse bi-partisan legislation that has already been created. The White House said the decision was a matter of legal necessity since nine Republican state attorneys general had threatened to sue the president if he did not act on his campaign promise. Officials said people whose DACA status expires on or before March 5 would be able to renew their two year legal status as long as they apply before October 5. If Congress fails to act, “Dreamers could face deportation as early as March 6.
Possible Entrapment of ‘Dreamers”: When ‘Dreamers” filled out their original applications as children under DACA, they gave important personal information in trust to government officials. At the time, they were assured that information would not be shared with ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or CBP, Customs and Border Enforcement. They divulged names, addresses, Social Security numbers, date of initial entry into the United States— exactly what the government would need to locate them quickly. Zachary Price of the University of California Hastings College of The Law has argued using such information would constitute entrapment. There is a leadling Supreme Court entrapment case that cites allowing the government to use such information as “shocking to the universal sense of justice.”
Protests and demonstrations broke out in front of the White House, Justice Department and cities across the country soon after Sessions’ announcement. In New York City, angry crowds gathered in front of Trump Tower to protest the decision. Cable TV showed protests and marches in Philadelphia, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. People carried home drawn signs, “SHAME ON You! Congress. Get A Spine!” There had been leaks in advance of what Trump would decide. People were ready to show their anger.
Organized Support for A Congressional Solution: Four bills with bi-partisan support have already been introduced in Congress. Senator Rickard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois has introduced legislation with Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, to make DACA permanent. “These young people grew up in this country and came out of the shadows voluntarily after our government promised not to deport them. “ Durbin said. “We’ve since seen ‘Dreamers graduate from college, start businesses, and give back to their communities in myriad ways.” One hundred law professors signed a letter to President Trump that DACA is legal since the president does not have the power to decide whom to deport , given that the government does not have the resources to target all undocumented immigrants. John Rowe, former chief executive of the energy giant Exelon, and now co-chairman of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition organized a letter to Trump supporting the DACA program. It was signed by 132 chief executives from across the nation. “To cancel this program is bad economics, bad politics and un- American.” Rowe wrote to the president.
Epilogue: On September 5, “Attorneys General Turn to Courts to Give ‘Dreamers’ A Second Chance” Front page New York Times. Eric Schneiderman of New York, heading a team of 15 state Democratic attorneys general, filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn claiming President Trump had improperly rescinded DACA. The law suit said that “ending DACA, whose participants are mostly of Mexican origin, is a culmination of President Trump’s oft stated commitments – whether personally held, stated to appease some portion of his constituency, or some combination thereof —to punish and disparage people with Mexican roots.” The lawsuit also charged that the Trump administration failed to follow federal rules governing executive policy making.
Additional law suits are expected. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Democrat of California plans a separate challenge to Trump rescinding DACA. Two major companies, Microsoft and Amazon will join that lawsuit, promising to pay the legal costs of any employees who become vulnerable to deportation. Court challenges could become a major deterrent and a rallying force behind public outrage and opposition to Trump’s DAC A decision.
The pressure is now on Congress to pass an appropriate bill and for President Trump to sign it. They have six months until March 5, 2018 …… The clock is ticking and the days are numbered. ……………………………………………………………………………………… Joyce S. Anderson