Editorial: DACA Dreamers will change America for the better

Medha Prodduturi, Editor-in-Chief

The Trump Administration is planning to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program protecting thousands of young undocumented immigrants regardless of its legality, and the Supreme Court’s conservative judges show no disposition to disagree. 

DACA, enacted by President Obama in 2012, provides relief from deportation and work authorization for immigrants brought to America as children. DACA allows nearly 800,000 Dreamers, a term used to describe those dependent on the program and affected by the Dream Act, to enroll in college and legally secure jobs.

The Dream Act was a bipartisan legislation that would allow two million Dreamers to better contribute to their families, their community, and boost our economy. Several versions of the bill were introduced in Congress since 2001, although the bill itself was never passed. 

Due to DACA, recipients have been able to come out of the shadows. Many Dreamers don’t know they are unauthorized immigrants until they are teenagers – often when they discover they cannot obtain a valid driver’s license or apply for financial aid forms for college as they lack Social Security numbers. The Dream Act would have provided a pathway to U.S. citizenship to  the young people who go to college and/or serve in the military while maintaining a clean record. 

A recent Harvard Study found the program to be largely successful and having assisted many young people in a variety of ways; the program has provided long-term economic and educational benefits for young adults and their families. In fact, at least 76% of DACA recipients have completed their professional and educational programs, contributing largely to the nation’s workforce and billions of dollars to the economy. 

Apart from the 34,000 additional first time applications currently processing from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, officials say they aren’t accepting any more applications. 

Protection remains under effect for those with unexpired work permits and an applied renewal before Oct. 5. 16,000 DACA recipients have already lost their deportation protections. Before thousands more Dreamers lose their privileges in the only country they have known, Congress must take action. 

President Trump has vowed to dismantle the program since 2017. Hours before the Supreme Court hearing last month, Trump tweeted, “Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from ‘angels.’ Some are very tough, hardened criminals…”

According to NBC News, four of the court’s conservative judges – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh – appeared to side with the Trump Administration in shutting down the program. 

As we await the Supreme Court’s ruling until the spring of 2020, it is important to realize that the DACA program has been a sense of hope for many immigrant families. It prevented family separation and signaled unity in communities. Dreamers have arrived to this country when they were children. They used the program to contribute to their families and to the U.S. economy as a whole. As thousands of young people depend on DACA, it is unacceptable for the Trump Administration to use the program as a way to hurt immigrant communities.