THE AMERICAN DREAM JUST GOT DACA
By Vithusan Kuganathan
DACA is the ‘Deferred Actions for Childhood Arrivals program’. In June 2012, Obama launched this controversial program to offer reprieve from children who came to the US as children. This entailed several benefits including avoiding deportation to the countries they came from. For instance, they can receive employment authorisation, i.e. they can work legally in the US. Furthermore, in certain states DACA recipients can receive in-state tuition. DACA lasted 2 years when it was initially introduced. However the length of time associated with it was 3 years after a reformation to the law took place in 2014.In June 2014, Obama expanded the law, introducing DAPA which is the ‘Deferred Action for Parental Accountability’ and reforming the old law. DAPA essentially deferred deportation for parents of US citizens for 3 years. It’s important to realise that this wasn't a permanent solution to the issue at hand which is illegal immigration - so in no way is it amnesty. Instead it offered a temporary solution for the undocumented whilst congress could come up with a permanent solution.
Moving away from the necessary exposition, here are a few stats. Between 2012 and 2014 there were 675,476 acceptances whilst approximately 36,588 applications were rejected. There are also fees associated with DACA - a $465 fee to cover employment authorisation and biometrics services. This just accentuates the overall effect that DACA has had on the masses of immigrants from around the world, but mostly from Latin-American countries, such as Brazil and Venezuela, where the quality of life pales in comparison to their neighbour, the US.
The implications of DACA extends beyond the recipients of DACA. It has wide-reaching impacts that may not necessarily affect us, but do affect almost all of the US. The US may feel impacts on an economic level due to the sheer number of workers that would be lost by the US considering the mass deportation that is most likely to occur. This is because 59% of DACA recipients went on to get jobs. One could say that this is a fairly heartless approach to the matter at hand. These are dependant and vulnerable people, who wanted a better life, one which the US promised to give. “The land of the free”, as it were, yet this minority has been associated with drug culture, but also separated from their families. However, others could say that the people of America should be put first.
You may be wondering why this topic is so relevant. Trump had announced the end to the DACA programme on the 15th of September. This is all part of a so-called “America First” campaign which is trying to “help the typical” American and put their needs above that of immigrants. But, what is the “typical American”? America has become such a culturally-diverse hub and thus the cancellation of the DACA programme begs the question, does this uninformed decision go against the fundamental basis of America - freedom and equality?
On the other side of the argument (which I am morally obliged to give) supporters of the campaign say that Latin-American immigrants bring drug culture with them and that shutting down the DACA programme keeps Americans safe. (However, the evidence for this is admittedly sparse.)
Overall, it is important to appreciate the ordeal that these DACA and DAPA recipients have gone through but should they be put on the same level as Americans? Time will tell.