Back in June, millions of immigrants celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, saving nearly 700,000 DREAMers from deportation.
“I feel so happy, it’s like a weight has been lifted off of me!” Josué Tayoud, DACA recipient told Revolution English when the decision was announced.
However, that celebration was cut short when President Donald Trump put out a new memo on July 28th, 2020 dismantling the DACA program. Since this could be a confusing change, given the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter, here are some facts to help you understand where the DACA program stands:
1. The court’s decision doesn’t mean the program is safe long term.
Even though the Court ruled in favor of the DREAMers, that doesn’t mean the work is over. In the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the Trump administration had not presented a strong enough case to end the program. However, that doesn’t mean that the White House can’t try to terminate again by offering stronger justification for its actions.
“To be clear: we do not hold that DACA could not be rescinded as an exercise of Executive Branch discretion,” Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw wrote. “We hold only that here, where the executive did not make a discretionary choice to end DACA — but rather acted based on an erroneous view of what the law required — the rescission was arbitrary and capricious under settled law.”
Therefore, they left room for there to be an actual cancellation of the program if the administration were to give an adequate explanation and compelling reasons to do so. However, Trump has done neither so far.
2. The new memo makes life even harder for DREAMers.
The memo is a direct response to the Supreme Court’s ruling. Since the Court determined that the Trump administration could not end the DACA program, the administration fired back by blocking things within their power, without the need of the approval of the Court. These include:
- Rejecting new DACA applications
- Rejecting all pending and future applications for advance parole, unless there are exceptional circumstances
- Limiting the period of renewal from two years to one
“As the Department continues looking at the policy and considers future action, the fact remains that Congress should act on this matter,” said Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf in the official memo. “There are important policy reasons that may warrant the full rescission of the DACA policy.”
3. Change within the program has been needed for a long time.
The DACA program has been criticised in the past for being merely a temporary solution to a lasting problem. DACA recipients do not have a clear path to citizenship, and there are many requirements they have to meet to maintain their legal status.
Aside from maintaining a spotless criminal record and tax history, DACA recipients have to renew their work permit every two years (or every year now, per the Trump administration’s new memo).
Additionally, they have to go have their biometrics taken so their criminal background can be checked. Any slip and they could lose their benefits and be in danger of deportation.
“From the beginning we knew that DACA was not a permanent solution,” Marissa Molina, a DACA recipient, told Revolution English in June. “I feel that the greatest cost of these benefits has been to our mental health and to our spirit, because we are in a constant state of waiting. What is going to happen? What if they will not let me renew it or if the renewal doesn’t arrive or it’s late? What about my job? That is the burden of living your life in increments of two years.”
4. This year’s election could make or break the program.
Ever since Trump started his presidential campaign, he has been open about his conservative stand on immigration and his desire to end the DACA program.
“We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties, in which he defied federal law and the constitution to give amnesty to approximately 5 million illegal immigrants,” Trump said at a campaign event in August 2016.
Even though his efforts to officially end the program have failed, he has implemented several roadblocks to make it more difficult for recipients. In addition to the memo, he increased the fees for DACA applications earlier this year. He has also been heavily criticized for incorrectly referring to DREAMers as “hardened criminals.”
“This is an election year, and for all those who are listening or reading this piece I think it is crucial to recognize how important that is,” Molina said. “If you have the privilege to exercise your vote, you should do so, because all of us, who do not have that privilege, depend on the leaders who are elected by the American citizens so that the laws can change.”
5. What you can do to help:
One of the most important things you can do is stay vocal about the issues that DREAMers face. As Moline pointed out, being politically active and voting in the upcoming presidential election is a good way to help DREAMers, who are virtually powerless in the decisions that affect their future in this country.
Additionally, communicating with local politicians and congressmen to voice your support for the program can be more important than you think. Organizations like Home Is Here and United We Dream have made it easy to send a letter to your State Senators to demand justice for dreamers by creating a template and instructions on how and why to fill out the letters.
Here are also some organizations you can donate to or seek assistance from if you are a DACA recipient: