It isn’t often you see the interest groups of major internet service providers, Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP on the same side of an issue. And yet, such is the political climate that has been fostered by President Donald Trump, making strange bedfellows and coalitions of organizations, corporations and individuals and certainly pushing one to wonder — how could anyone support this if such a diverse range of interests can not support it?
This is the present scenario facing Trump’s administration and his threats to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program this year. DACA is a program initiated by former President Obama that has helped to protect 800,000 unauthorized immigrants from deportation and has permitted them to stay, live and work in the United States. As of right now, Trump will leave DACA in place for the next six months, giving Congress until that deadline to come up with some sort of legislative compromise to replace or institutionalize the program.
If this program is to be rescinded, as Trump has threatened publicly, it would mean the loss of protection from deportation for 800,000 unauthorized immigrants, creating the possibility for forcible removal of hundreds of thousands of people born in the United States to parents who immigrated here. For many of these DACA recipients, this means possible deportation for young adults who know no other home, who have lived and prospered and worked in the United States for years.
And yet, as many of its opponents fail to recognize, the stringency of requirements alone for DACA recipients is astounding, as not even all Dreamers in the United States qualify for protections from the program. Some of the many requirements include that all DACA recipients must have grown up in the United States, must be registered with the American government and must submit to comprehensive background checks. DACA recipients pay taxes, own businesses, attend prestigious colleges and contribute to American culture.
Thus, those who point to the economic concerns of continuing DACA are simply misinformed. Studies suggest that ending DACA could cost the United States $460.3 billion in its GDP, and $24.6 billion in Medicare and Social Security tax contributions alone. Likewise, more than 6 percent of DACA recipients have started their own businesses, while another 12 percent have purchased their own homes in the United States thanks to the benefits they have received from DACA — indeed, contrary to much of the conservative punditry, DACA recipients contribute largely to the American economy.
However, more important to this debate than the asinine and falsely supported economic arguments defending Trump’s new policy is the simple and direct violation of every American value that is supposed to be intrinsic to our national identity. It is fundamentally unsound and un-American to belittle the belief in the right of existence of these Dreamers in the United States due to an economic defense of their productivity, their contribution economically to our society.
These Dreamers are more than statistics, more than business-owners, more than contributing students, more than researchers or computer scientists. Most fundamentally, DACA recipients are people. And they are Americans.
America, since its inception, has continuously postured itself as a land rife with opportunity for those who will take it, offering education as the great equalizer, offering citizenship and the right to vote and participate in the world’s leading democracy as mobilizing emblems of agency and representation. America has always claimed to promise all within its bounds a chance to prosper through a system of meritocracy, that anything is possible with grit, hard work and perseverance.
And perhaps no sect of the American population better embodies these attributes and aspirations than the Dreamers that DACA protects. To strip them of these rights — of the right to pursue these opportunities, to live without fear of deportation from the United States, to have a job, to contribute to our culture and to our economy — is inhumane, base and deplorable.
This decision, coming on the heels of a proposed border wall, a travel ban and various other instances of hate-based policies led by the Trump administration cements this presidency as one blindly and impulsively led by prejudice, xenophobia, nativism and white nationalism. Immigrants have contributed to, shaped and defined what it is to be an American and what our political values have fundamentally always been since the founding of our nation. To propose that these 800,000 men and women lose their right to legally work and live in the United States is a direct and bigoted contradiction of all that Americans hold dear.
To be sure, DACA is only the very beginning of a much needed, revised American immigration policy. And yet, it must be sanctified and institutionalized as an early step to protecting the rights of unauthorized immigrants in America, and to begin a more thorough, open path to legal citizenship for those unauthorized immigrants currently in the United States
ERIN FARRELL is a College junior and the Penn Democrats communication director.
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