RESISTANCE WATCH--U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would be eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy established by the Obama administration in June 2012.
Angelenos are not taking this policy upheaval lying down. On Sunday, September 10, activists gathered in MacArthur Park to protest the Trump administration shift to eliminate protection for almost 800,000 “dreamers” brought into this country by their parents without documentation.
Many of the activists shouted, “No Trump, no KKK, no racist USA,”which has become a rallying cry at marches and rallies since Charlottesville last month. Although the main goal of the march was to defend the “dreamers,” organizers say the demonstration was also aimed at protesting construction of a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border, one of Donald J. Trump’s campaign promises.
Since the Trump administration announced the plans to dismantle DACA, protests have popped up cross the country. On Saturday, thousands gathered in front of Trump International Hotel and Tower at New York’s Columbus Circle to protest the policy change that could mean deportation for hundreds of thousands.
In 2012, President Obama’s administration set into place a policy that would allow those who had entered the country as minors without documentation to receive renewable two-year periods of deferred action from deportation. These “dreamers,” as they became known, would also be eligible for work permits.
By November 2014, multiple state had filed suits after President Obama has attempted to expand DACA. This expansion was blocked by the courts. In June of this year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had rescinded the expansion and was reviewing the entire program. President Trump, who seems trigger happy to overturn any policy instituted by President Obama, rescinded DACA with a 6-month delay in implementation, pending a congressional solution.
In his announcement of the repeal of DACA, Attorney Gen. Sessions stated DACA was responsible for lower wages and employment of native-born Americans, as well as a driving force in unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Central America. These statements are unsubstantiated. To be eligible for the DACA or Dreamer program, recipients many not have felonies or serious misdemeanors – and there is no evidence that DACA-eligible immigrants are more likely to commit crimes.
The state with the largest number of DACA recipients is California – and a repeal would likely have a negative impact on the state in lost tax revenue without a significant, if any, impact on employment figures.
The “Dreamers,” all of whom came to the United States at under 16, may have no connection with the country to where they may be deported. As President Obama wrote:
They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they're undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver's license... Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn't threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us... Kicking them out won't lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone's taxes, or raise anybody's wages.
Through his campaign, Trump promised to repeal DACA on Day 1, playing to xenophobic voters by scapegoating. To use 800,000 human beings as political capital is cruel and unreasonable; more so to play with people’s lives to appeal to what appears to be one of a stream of vindictive measures overturn President Obama’s legacy.
(Beth Cone Kramer is a Los Angeles writer and a CityWatch columnist.)