Prologue: On August 15, 2012 during The Obama administration, U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS) began accepting applications for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). As of June, 2016, USICIS had received 844,931 initial applications for DACA status.
Since 2012, over 800,000 thousand young men and women have completed their educations and worked in their communities, paying taxes. They have hoped that a path to citizenship would be initiated in the United States Congress and they would become American citizens – thus their name The Dreamers.
November, 2016: Donald Trump was elected President and the future of The Dreamers changed. His first campaign statement coming down the escalator in Trump Tower was that immigrants crossing the Southern border were “murderers and rapists”. During his rallies , he promised “ We will build “a Great Wall to stop these people from coming to the U.S. And Mexico will pay for it! “ He described gangs of men arriving in “caravans” by the thousands. But the majority were women and their children walking thousands of miles to escape persecution and death from gangs.
On September 5 of 2017, the Trump administration announced that it was phasing out the DACA program. It permitted only those recipients whose benefits expired between Sept. 5 of 2017 and March 5 of 2018 to renew for a final two years. Young immigrants rushed to file for renewal. Democrats in Congress and members of the public were dismayed by the new policy. The Dreamers had captured support across the country.
On January 17 of 2018, it was reported that the Justice Department was appealing a District federal Court Judge’s ruling to save DACA at The Supreme Court. Judge William Alsop in San Francisco had imposed a nationwide stop to the program until litigation could be heard. The case to save DACA had been brought by the University of California and Janet Napolitano, its president. It was then decided at the Appeals Court Level against Donald Trump’s attempt to end the DACA program. They could continue to get work permits and go on with their lives. Finally , the Trump administration filed a petition to The Supreme court to hear the Appeals Court decision which was turned down.
On January 23, 2019 an article in the New York Times by Adam Liptak described how Trump had taken inconsistent positions on DACA at the same time he was trying to end it. He had called a meeting of interested members of Congress and department heads to discuss possible solutions. He called upon Congress to give legal status and a path to citizenship to The Dreamers. His offer to extend the program in exchange for concessions on building his Wall at the border never materialized.
Throughout 2019, the Trump administration continued their separation of families at the Southern border with increased media coverage of children in cages without proper care. One official described the situation as “summer camp”. Others were appalled … “No soap or tooth brush…. Sleeping on the floor…babies unattended by an adult!’
On Friday, June 29, The Supreme Court announced it would consider how President Trump has tried to end the DACA program since he took office. Once again, The Dreamers will live in fear until a decision is reached.
Federal courts in California, New York and Washington D.C. have blocked the president’s efforts to end DACA. In August, Judge John Bates on the D.C. Circuit who had been appointed by a Republican president, wrote a harsh critique of the administration’s reasons. He ruled that the rationale that they put forward was “arbitrary and capricious under federal law.”
The American people are strongly in favor of DACA as reflected in opinion polls over the years.
However, The Supreme Court has changed since 2017 when Trump became president. He chose two new members highly recommended by The Federalist Society : Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh. There are now four conservative members and four liberal members. Chief Justice John Roberts usually votes with the conservatives. He broke from them in June and joined the liberals on the crucial vote that delayed adding a Citizenship Question to the 20/20 Census.
Will he do the same to save DACA and The Dreamers?
………………………………………………………………………………………….Joyce S. Anderson