Monday, March 8, 2021

DACA fate worries students about their future


A small group of state attorneys general are threatening legal action against President Donald Trump if he doesn’t end the DACA program by tomorrow, the Associated Press reports.

A DACA protest in Washington, D.C., 2016 (Susan Melkisethian/Flickr CC)

President Barack Obama signed an executive order five years ago, starting what was called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Under this executive order, children who come to the US with their parents can stay here under certain conditions, but their enrollment in DACA has to be renewed every two years by application.

Then, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump signaled that he would end the DACA program entirely, but he has recently backed off of that hard line, implying that people who had enrolled in DACA wouldn’t lose their privileges and he would treat them “with heart.” Mr Trump’s statements have, however, left considerable wiggle room to change the status of the program at any point in the future.

UPDATE Sept. 5: Education Week is now reporting that Mr Trump today plans to end the DACA program with a six-month delay in implementation. The move will, the magazine says, affect “roughly 7 percent of all K-12 students, [who] are the children of undocumented immigrants” and “discourage some students from enrolling in school” … “upending their lives.”

Some 800,000 people are in the US under the protection of DACA. They are at just about every school in the nation, and the ending of the program would send hundreds of thousands of children back to countries that many of them have never called home or even knew. An estimated 65,000 undocumented immigrants graduate from high school each year.

“Every human being bears within him or her the image of God, which confers upon us a dignity higher than any passport or immigration status,” wrote Mark Joseph Seitz, the current Roman Catholic bishop of El Paso, in a statement released on August 28. “The [immigration] system is broken. We need comprehensive immigration reform. It is overdue.”

“The DACA program has helped bring wonderfully talented and critically needed teachers to our classrooms and has provided peace of mind and legal status to thousands of immigrant children and families who make our city and our schools great,” the Denver Post quoted DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg as saying.

The future of DACA is uncertain, as is the president’s timeline

Some people close to the Trump administration have suggested he might allow people who are here now to stay until their two-year term expires but won’t instruct the federal government to process any new or renewal applications.

This would effectively phase out the program, as DACA recipients now in the US would have at most two years remaining on their legal stay.

“There has to be something announced or signaled by [Sept.] 5, so if not Friday, then probably Monday or Tuesday,” a CBS News political consultant said. “And all presumptions are that the program will wind down.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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