Killing DACA would be killing the American dream

Photo by Jessica Wade

Jessica Wade


The supporters of President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy applaud the move as an end to the “unconstitutional” executive action by former President Obama, which gives undocumented people brought to the United States as children a chance at something that’s seemingly becoming increasingly scarce—the American dream.

DACA was established by Obama in 2012 to ensure that children brought to the United States before the age of 16 could live, work and pursue higher education without fear of deportation.

Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, Ph.D, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and UNO professor, explained how DACA began as a proposal.

“In 2010 there was something called the Dream Act which was proposed legislation that made it through the House and got to the Senate where it died due to a Republican filibuster,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “They refused to let it go to a vote because the thought is that it probably would have won, but it never made it back to Obama to be signed into law so he used an executive action.”

There’s an argument weaving its way from Jeff Sessions to the statuses of Facebook that Obama didn’t have the authority to pass policy regarding immigration, it’s a mystery how those concerns weren’t voiced when Trump put a ban on refugees from Muslim-majority countries, or when he used his authority to pardon former Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Looking past the hypocrisy of saying Obama didn’t have the authority to establish DACA, there is also the claim that DACA recipients hurt the economy and take jobs away from citizens, which is also false.

“The DACA kids are really shining examples of what you get when you have people who are very ambitious, very intelligent and are driven,” Benjamin-Alvarado said. “They’re not taking jobs, they’re creating jobs, they’re really filling a breach in society that needs people who are literate in both English and Spanish, people who understand the culture and are going to be contributing as doctors, attorneys, engineers, all those things that we need in society.”

Another false assumption—the idea that these recipients are somehow threats to public safety and national security. In reality, DACA recipients had to pass extensive background checks and they do not receive automatic citizenship, but a two-year hold on deportation and a renewable referral.

Trump has left the futures of roughly 800,000 U.S. workers, students and families up to Congress. Hopefully they choose to protect the futures that over a quarter of a million people have worked for, and keep mixed-status families together.

“My hope is that people can put their heads together and think about what is best for these individuals. I’m not naïve and I know it’s going to be tough to achieve that, but 70 percent of the American population today is on board with the idea that we need to do something about this.”

Trump plans to put a wall between the United States and Mexico, and now he wants to put a wall around the American dream.