President Trump’s decision this week to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program created by President Obama has been met with scorn from a wide variety of outlets, including many conservative politicians and traditionally conservative organizations.
They are right to protest the potential deportation of the roughly 800,000 young immigrants who stepped forward to participate in DACA.
These “Dreamers” have committed no crime. They were brought to this country illegally by their parents, and many of them didn’t even know they were not U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents until they were young adults.
They also meet some of the most stringent requirements for any immigrants in this country. They cannot have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors. And they had to meet certain education or military service guidelines to enroll.
Aside from the fact that they are some of the safest immigrants in the U.S., they are also generally strong contributors to the economy. A study by the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, found that 83 percent of the DACA-eligible U.S. population was employed.
Quite simply, there is nothing positive to be gained from kicking them out of this country.
That being said, it is true that the DACA program was not an ideal solution. First, it created several gray areas regarding what benefits the participants are entitled to. Also, expansion of presidential powers, even for compelling reasons, is worrisome because it erodes the delicate balance among the branches that is the basis of our government.
It is possible that Trump’s actions this week will ultimately have a positive result: a clear, congressional solution that allows these upstanding members of society to remain in the only country they’ve ever known.
But the recent history of Congress refusing to consider any legislation on immigration is not promising, and Trump’s move is a gamble with high stakes: the lives of nearly a million people who have done nothing wrong.