Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Better Alternative to DACA Needs to be Found

ELEANNA DAVOS ’20

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

President Trump is not one to shy away from being in the spotlight, whether it reflects well on him or not. Most recently, Trump has been in the limelight for his strong statements about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In early September, he made a statement that he will end the program that provides support and services to children of undocumented immigrants who were born in the US, as well as undocumented minors. All of which in order to receive the services from DACA must fall within certain specifications listed in the policy that former President Obama implemented in June 2012. From the beginning of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump put illegal immigration and immigration policy changes at the fore-front of his campaign. President Trump made sure his supporters were aware that once he took office he would crack down on all forms of immigration, highlighting illegal immigration from Mexico specifically.

A little background information on DACA: it was implemented as a way to protect undocumented minors in the U.S. Under DACA, children were able to receive a renewable two year amnesties from deportation, to later then become eligible for a work permit. Ultimately allowing them to renew their status as a DACA recipient with the ultimate goal of citizenship. To be able to apply for the vast benefits of DACA, applicants must have arrived in the US prior to their 16th birthday, be continuous residents of the US without a change in their legal status since June of 2007, be under the age of 31 as of June 2012 and at least 15 years old, enrolled in school or have graduated high school or have a General Development Certificate (GED), or be an honorably discharged veteran of the US military, and lastly have not been convicted of any crime and not pose a threat to national security.

Since its implementation DACA has provided an umbrella of safety for almost 800,000 (not accounting for the people who applied and did not get accepted) people who reside in the United States. These members of DACA have every opportunity a legalized American citizen has except for the piece of paper that legally makes them a citizen. Their protection under DACA allows them to legally hold a job, purchase a home, attend college, and join the military etc. All these privileges that legalized American never take for granted are handed to DACA members along with the benefit or never needing to worry about the threat of deportation as long as they maintain credible status within DACA.

DACA negates the need for citizenship for people who fall under this program because they are provided with the two most important benefits as an undocumented member of the country. One being a temporary suspension of deportation and the legal authorization to work in the United States. These benefits lead to many other open doors such as the opportunity to get a driver’s license which then funnels into the opportunity to be able to vote. When it comes down to the framework the members of DACA are able to do everything a legalized American citizen can do without themselves being legal members of society.

At first sight the program seems flawless and in a certain perspective can fall along the lines of supporting everyone’s right to the American Dream- but only making it slightly easier and more attainable. But let’s be honest; DACA, like most government programs, is flawed and should be stopped until a better program can be put forward. In the last year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said that 622 people had their deferred action status pulled due to criminal activity. In that group of 622 people, the crimes ranged from multiple misdemeanor convictions, gang affiliation, alien smuggling, assaultive offenses, domestic violence, drug offenses, DUI, larceny and thefts, criminal trespass and burglary, sexual offenses with minors, other sex offenses and weapons offenses. In the last four years, roughly 3,000 people had their status’ pulled due to crime actions that endangered American lives.

Of course, this shows that the larger percentage of people protected under DACA are harmless, but that can’t negate the fact that of those undocumented members of society pose a threat to society which should be stopped. These numbers show simply how incredibly unreliable and inadequate DACA’s screening processes are, and just how low the bar was set to be eligible for DACA. Interestingly only a select few number of applicants were ever interviewed which contradicts President Obama’s statement that every applicant would be thoroughly looked at which would also entail an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Unfortunately, this program could have had the to potential to be executed properly but at this time I believe it is time to end the program to protect and prioritize American citizens.

DACA’s fate now lies in the hands of Congress, who will choose the program’s fate within the next six months. Trinity students who may fall under DACA’s program should continue to feel safe and welcomed by all members of Trinity College and the Hartford community. In no way should anyone’s opinion turn into hurtful words, actions, or behaviors that would put members of our society and Trinity College’s community in danger.

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