Y'all's president, Donald J. Trump, is straddling a fine line. He's clearly been on some other shit since stepping into the Oval Office on day one—at the same time, he doesn't want the "other" to have basic rights. Whether it's Muslim citizens, African Americans, transgender people, or women in general, Trump has made it abundantly clear that his time in office will be dedicated to rolling back the progress we've achieved as a country (which doesn't feel like much progress at all, sometimes).
It hasn't even been a year and the Donald has been steamrolling our nation's most protective laws every chance he can get. At this rate, it's scary to think where he'll take things next year. (Impeachment, anybody?) All we can do in the meantime is focus on what's in front of us, which at the moment, is DACA. You might have seen recent reports in the news about Trump's decision to cut the program, but you might not know exactly what it is, or why the move was made. Here are some fast facts on DACA, who it affects, and what its repeal ultimately means.
What is DACA?
DACA is an acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program was created by the Obama administration in 2012 for the purpose of taking extraordinary pressure off of young people who are brought to this country illegally by their parents. Under DACA, youth who enter the U.S. under these circumstances are allowed a temporary reprieve from deportation, and permission to work, study, and obtain a driver's licenses.
There are several requirements for hopeful DACA applicants:
- They are required to have been under 31 years old when the program began five years ago.
- Applicants had to prove they had lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007.
- Applicants also had to prove they had arrived in the U.S. before age 16.
- DACA beneficiaries had to show they had clean criminal records.
- DACA applicants also had to be enrolled in high school or college, or serve in the military.
Every two years, DACA is (or was) renewable.
Why is DACA important?
The Obama administration felt that minors brought into the U.S. illegally should not be at fault for literally existing and wanting to pursue a better life in their current surroundings. Unable to find a legislative remedy to protect them, the administration created DACA through executive action in June 2012. DACA didn’t ultimately provide lawful immigration status, but instead granted qualified recipients a deferral from possibly being removed from the U.S.
Obama was accused by conservatives of overstepping his authority, but no legal challenge was made until Trump took office. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of the program, said in the formal announcement that the Obama administration "deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch." Sessions also added that DACA "denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same illegal aliens to take those jobs."
Who benefits from DACA?
There are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients, who are also known as DREAMers, named after the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. According to NPR, most Dreamers arrived from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras; there are also several thousand recipients from Asia. They're spread across the country, but the largest concentrations are in California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Florida.
What is Trump's plan and when does it take place?
The Trump administration announced Tuesday that it would end DACA in six months if Congress can't find a more permanent solution. In a tweet Tuesday evening, Trump said he supports legalizing DACA—but vowed to revisit the issue if Congress can't figure it out.
Congress now has 6 months to legalize DACA (something the Obama Administration was unable to do). If they can't, I will revisit this issue!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2017
According to the Department of Homeland Security, DACA will be phased out, with an official termination coming at the end of the six-month deadline. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has said it will process all new applications received as of Sept. 5—that means new applications are no longer being accepted.
All hope isn't lost: Dreamers whose work permits expire before March 5, 2018 can apply for a two-year renewal, but they must meet the upcoming deadline of Oct. 5. DACA supporters on Twitter have shared additional details for those who will be directly impacted:
To anyone who is a #DACA recipient please spread the word. You still have time to renew your permit! pic.twitter.com/FvrKQyyIYz— chuy (@_chuy06) September 5, 2017
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says it has no plans to target DACA holders as their permits expire. While they will be eligible for deportation, they will allegedly remain a low priority.
What are the reactions to Trump's plan to end DACA?
Reactions to the Trump administration's decision to end DACA have been widespread, ranging from affected citizens to individuals in the film and television industry to musicians, and even wrestlers.
The decision to end #DACA is rooted in hatred + fear. I stand with the #DREAMers in this country. This is your home. You matter. Much love.— COMMON (@common) September 5, 2017
I’m very disappointed with today’s decision to end #DACA. Our statement: https://t.co/67YQGYtDGo— Bill Gates (@BillGates) September 5, 2017
The more I learn about the #DACA decision, the more I am convinced September 5, 2017 will be looked back on as a shameful day for the USA.— Mick Foley (@RealMickFoley) September 6, 2017
.@realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/kPWOUWhlWF— Lauren Jauregui (@LaurenJauregui) September 4, 2017
Over 800k young immigrant #DREAMers across the US are at risk! Extremists want to terminate #DACA. We must #DefendDACA!— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) September 5, 2017
My boy @guillermodiazreal wore this shirt to work today. I concur. #iamanimmigrant #WeMatter #defenddaca https://t.co/1wEtks2lcD pic.twitter.com/AjZjX837sE— kerry washington (@kerrywashington) September 5, 2017
Decision was shitty— Kal Penn (@kalpenn) September 5, 2017
Easy to have done right
Zero reason not to
No hiding it
Understand: you suck
Sincerely, Kal https://t.co/tCnCCIXxuC
Today I stand with DREAMers. We WILL fight the recent #DACA announcement. #NoMomentForSilence— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) September 6, 2017
Listen: https://t.co/zZZh543Ajp 💚 @Spotify pic.twitter.com/E6HK2CIgv2
The former POTUS himself, Barack Obama, wrote a touching statement on Facebook standing with Dreamers.
The various messages contain differing points of focus, but the overall reaction is unanimous: Trump is unnecessarily fucking up life for a lot of people, and we won't stand for it.